We had the honour this weekend to do a Q&A with Darryl Schoon. What was intended to be a short talk about a limited number of specific questions, became a long and in-depth conversation about the fundamentals of modern life (economy, money and currency, precious metals, psychology, history). The world through the lens of Gold as Darryl sees it … that’s how we would describe the unique conversation. We would like to thank Darryl for the time he spent with us and the timely knowledge and wisdom he shared. Of course, readers will benefit from his insights as well, as we’ll publish several resumes in the coming weeks, starting with Darryl’s five favorite books in this article.
Debt and Delusion: Central Bank Follies that Threaten Economic Disaster by Peter Warburton
Debt and Delusion exposes serious flaws in the development of the global financial system starting in the early 1990s, singling out the world’s largest central banks for special criticism. Their negligent oversight has permitted an explosion of corporate and household credit that has fueled a succession of false markets in stocks, bonds, and property. Alarmed by the monster so created, the U.S. Federal Reserve has spent much of the past five years staving off the evil day when foolish lending turns into bad debt. Far from being the architects of economic stability and low inflation, the world’s central bankers have ushered in a new era of financial fragility and latent instability. Innovations in the use of derivatives, structured products, and other complex financial instruments have been applauded by the central banks on narrow technical criteria. But these supposed bastions of conservatism have failed to comprehend the wider implications for financial stability.
The failure of many of the finest economic minds to engage with the rapid evolution of our financial structures and institutions has led to a superficial assessment of this unprecedented credit experiment. Only now, as various credit markets face the inevitable tests of higher interest rates and the realistic pricing of credit risks, is the threat of a pandemic of debt-related distress beginning to be taken seriously. Government budgets, already strained by the weight of social support, have limited scope to respond. In short, tougher economic times lie ahead, when personal debts will hang more onerously than for 75 years. Debt and Delusion recommends a hasty reappraisal of the debt requirements of corporations and households alike.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods — that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
The author shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. The book is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.
Critical Path by R. Buckminster Fuller
Critical Path is Fuller’s master work – the summing up of a lifetime’s thought and concern – as urgent and relevant as it was upon its first publication in 1981. The book details how humanity found itself in its current situation – at the limits of the planet’s natural resources and facing political, economic, environmental, and ethical crises. It offers the reader the excitement of understanding the essential dilemmas of our time and how responsible citizens can rise to meet this ultimate challenge to our future.
Time of the Vulture: How to Survive the Crisis and Prosper in the Process by Darryl R. Schoon
This book predicted in 2007 why an economic crisis of unexpected magnitude and consequences was about to occur and was updated in 2012. The new edition addresses the current economic condition and the evolving crisis.
The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History by David Hackett Fischer
Fischer describes four waves of price revolutions, each beginning in a period of equilibrium: the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and finally the Victorian Age. Each revolution is marked by continuing inflation, a widening gap between rich and poor, increasing instability, and finally a crisis at the crest of the wave that is characterized by demographic contraction, social and political upheaval, and economic collapse. The author brilliantly illuminates how these long economic waves are closely intertwined with social and political events. He suggests that we are living now in the last stages of a price revolution that has been building since the turn of the century. The destabilizing price surges and declines and the diminished expectations the United States has suffered in recent years – and the famines and wars of other areas of the globe – are typical of the crest of a price revolution. He does not attempt to predict what will happen. Rather, he ends with a brilliant analysis of where we might go from here and what our choices are now.