E “Some Of My Best Friends Are Economists”

The pre-revolutionary Iranian rial. Image Source: Unslash

In my writing, I often refer to my mother’s philosophy. My mother was a philosopher who tended to believe the great systemic philosophers had it all backwards. She was driven by the tragedies of the 20th century, particularly that of the Holocaust (which her family escaped).

My father is a little different. He is an economist who denies the beliefs of the great systemic economists. My father’s Ph.D. was the first refutation of the Random Walk Hypotheses. He proceeded to make a great deal of money as an investor before deciding to “actually make something.”

That was a harder road to travel.                                     

Growing up, my father’s principles were drilled into all of us kids. I still remember them:

  • Synergy is a four-letter word. We were free to say the F-word all we wanted, but “synergy” had consequences. Synergy was an excuse for empire-building, not a method of creating value.
  • Owing money can protect you, up to a point. Whenever we came to the Ten Commandments in our annual cycle of Biblical readings, we were reminded that Alexander Hamilton could recite them from memory in Hebrew, by the age of three. Obviously, we were flawed. Hamilton’s real genius wasn’t reciting Bible verses, though. His real genius was understanding that if you owed people money, they would want you to survive. Debt is a form of protection.
  • No macro-economic model works: people can’t be predicted.
  • And… the greatest lesson of all: never invest in currency. My great-grandfather, the second son of a wealthy aristocratic English family, had moved to Kansas with an allowance. He owned a farm; because that was what you did. However, he didn’t work the farm, because that was beneath him. Instead, he received checks from back home and he invested his money. After World War I, as the Germany Mark began to slide, he saw an opportunity. He invested in the Mark. As he saw it, it had to recover eventually. In 1921, 90 Marks bought a dollar. By 1923, it took over 4 trillion marks to buy a dollar. The impacts of that mistake remain with my family almost a hundred years later.
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Alexis Renault 1 month ago Member's comment

So how do I create value?

Joseph Cox 2 weeks ago Author's comment

The answer is different for every person. That's one of the beauties of creativity :)

Carl Schwartz 2 months ago Member's comment

I still find that runaway inflation in Germany post WWI to be mind boggling.