2013 Year In Review

Submitted by Adam Taggart via Peak Prosperity,

Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. The 89-page tour-de-force is a must-read this holiday season for perspective on where we have been and where we are going. From Krugman to the abuse of civil liberties, from gold to muni bankruptices, and from Student debt bubble to Cyprus and beyond, Collum covers it all.

Why would anybody give a damn what an organic chemist thinks about investing, economics, and politics?I’m baffled. As a half-hearted defense, in over 34 years of investing with a decidedly lopsided portfolio, I have had only two years in which my total wealth decreased in nominal dollars. My 14-year return since 01/01/00 is 9% compounded with no leverage and no glass eye. (We all made money in the 90’s so I don’t even go there.)

Each review begins with a highly personalized account of my efforts to get through another year of investing, which is followed by an overview of 34 years of investing. I thought maybe I would drop the former, but I couldn’t because one of my two losing years was this year. Come again? You lost money this year? Yep, I’m the guy—an urban legend in the flesh. You cannot teach this kind of prowess. It was a very expensive year to be in the Church of Austrian Economics and Hard Assets. Thus, I must continue with the personal overview as a form of a trip to the confessional. The investing section may be instructive for those interested in my approach and for gold bulls on suicide watch. The bulk of the review, however, describes thoughts and observations—the year’s events told as a narrative. The links are copious, albeit not comprehensive. Some are flagged as highly recommended.

I try to avoid themes covered amply in my previous reviews. I won’t pick on the Roth IRA anymore (although I was right),and I’ve left resource depletion alone (it’s still a problem). Nonetheless, some gifts just keep on giving. Debt permeates all levels of society, demanding comment every year. Precious metals are a personal favorite. This year seems to be more about politics and less about economics. Sections entitled Baptists, Bankers, the Federal Reserve, and Bootleggers describe the players involved in the biggest battle since Frodo melted down the ring for beer money. Society is juiced on easy money, leaving some of us breathless. I finish with a book list that shaped my thinking.

Every year I have declared with an increasingly shrill voice now inaudible even to dogs that civil liberties must be protected at all costs and that we all should avoid using “conspiracy” as a pejorative term. Oh…my…God! Just as smartphones have put to rest the existence of Yeti, aliens, and the Loch Ness Monster, 2013 put to rest any claim that conspiracies do not exist. If you denounce conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists to me, I will remind you of the quote from a 20th century philosopher:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

~ Mike Tyson

The full review is below:


The contents are as follows:

    The Bear Case
    The Economy
    Broken Markets
    Debt and Retirement
    Municipal Debt
    Student Debt
    Bonds and Sovereign Debt
    Housing the Mortgage Markets
    Rest of the World
    The Fourth Estate
    CNBC–Rise Above
    Bankers and Finance
    Federal Reserve
    Paul Krugman
    Government Gone Wild
    Mr. Obama Goes to Washington
    Civil Liberties Part 1
    Civil Liberties Part 2: Edward Snowden versus the NSA




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