Editor’s Note: Our main office in Delray Beach, Florida is shut down due to Hurricane Matthew, and Bill is driving up the coast to Baltimore… But before getting on the road he took some time to update the following classic Diary essay.
PARIS – What should you do if you are running out of time and money?
This is the question we get from readers over 50… over 60… and sometimes over 70.
We baby boomers were famously “na… na… na… live for today.” Now, it’s tomorrow. And many of us – often through no fault of our own – are having trouble making ends meet.
At the Diary, we write about the world of money. About economic policy and how it affects you.
But what if, in your world of money, you are running short? What should you do to get more?
Check under the seat cushions? Rob a bank?
You are 70. You have no money. What do you do?
Sell your body for medical experiments? Invent a new app?
Try a sophisticated trading system or an expensive investment program, hoping to get rich quick?
We don’t know anything more than anyone else on the subject. We don’t have any secrets. But after thinking about it, we wonder if you really need much money, anyway.
“Bill,” said a colleague recently. “It’s crazy for you to be giving advice about money. You don’t care about money.”
He’s right. We don’t even like money. So, it’s a little odd that we would be giving advice on the subject.
But what we’re about to argue is that you don’t need much money… and you may be better off without it.
Why? Well, in an empty coffer, you may have the greatest treasure of all – the hope of happiness.
Yes, dear reader: Blessed be the poor. They still believe that they could be happy… if only they had more money!
This, of course, is an illusion that only the poor can afford. Rich people know better. They have too much money. They know it cannot buy them happiness. That’s why the suicide rate in Aspen is three times the national average.
But how lucky are the poor! They still have hope!
They might win the lottery. They might get a raise or a better job. They might inherit money from a rich uncle. Money is always close at hand.
So, happiness must be too… only a funeral or a lottery ticket away.
Let’s consult the philosophers. Let’s go back to Democritus, Epicurus, Zeno, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucretius (not to mention Jesus of Nazareth!).
They argued – albeit in different ways – that what matters in life has little to do with wealth or status. What matters (at least according to Plato’s description) is courage, wisdom, justice, and temperance.
We would add beauty and dignity. And a good wine. A good cook. And a good view. Nowhere on the list is a Rolex or a house in Malibu.
The nice thing about Plato’s list… as well as the whole Epicurean/Stoic/ascetic creed… is that it doesn’t cost much!
As many philosophers and religious teachers have said, wealth may get in the way of the things that matter. It may distract you and reduce your real happiness.
We are not ducking the question. We are just putting it in context.
If you want more money, you first have to understand what you want it for… and how it might affect your life.
Our goal is not to “come to terms” with financial misery. Nor is it to submit to poverty – even happily. Instead, we want to master poverty… to live better, even in poverty, than the typical rich person.
As Nietzsche put it, we aim to “set to dancing with arms and legs.” And for that we need context.
We left Paris early this morning. It was still dark. It’s that time of year.
The days grow short… and damp… and dwindle down. The sidewalk was slick with decaying leaves. The hint of approaching death makes the dying autumn days especially rich, like the last bites of a favorite dessert.
And over Paris this morning shone a “super moon” that must have set hearts yearning for something…
But what? Romance? Love?
Pity the poor tin heart – like an empty trash bin – that looked at that full moon lighting the slate roofs of Paris… and wished for money.
Money is our beat at the Diary. We will stick with it.
But money means nothing without philosophy, without context. Beyond what we need to survive, money has no importance.
If you don’t have money, you need to be able to pass up luxury, gluttony, and self-indulgence with your nose in the air… not with your shoulders bent in defeat and self-disgust.
And for that you need philosophy. Or at least aesthetics.
All people – unless they are saints or mental defectives – want to feel good about themselves. That is their primary aim in life and the only reason they are interested in money (save the minimal amount for survival).
Since we are a competitive species, we feel good about ourselves in direct measure as we feel superior to those around us.
Being thin is no virtue in a famine. It is only by being surrounded by fat people that it gives you any advantage.
Likewise, if we are smart, we get no edge from it unless others are dumb. And if we are rich, it is only meaningful to the extent that others are less rich.
But so clever is our race that we are able to find superiority almost everywhere.
If we are fat, we redefine the corpulent spectrum so that we are “pleasingly plump,” while others are “unhealthy” and “too thin.”
If we are dumb, we focus on our “common sense,” as opposed to the uncommon nonsense of the “pointy-headed intellectuals” (to borrow a phrase from George Wallace).
And what if we have no money?
Then spending money is vulgar, shallow, and pointless!
One person feels superior because of what he owns. Another for what he does not. Still another for what he knows. And another for what he knows not.
One feels superior from who he is, while another measures his stature by who he is not.
But the one who feels superior to them all is the one who owns nothing, knows nothing, and is a complete nobody. He is free from the vanities that clutter others’ lives!
In 10th-century Europe having little became fashionable. People gave up their possessions in search of a life of contemplation.
They wanted to get away from the distractions and temptations of everyday life so they could live in a purer way… in simplicity and godliness.
So great was the demand for poverty that the monasteries and convents could scarcely keep up with it. They had to build new ones all over the continent.
Today, poverty is not as à la mode as it was in the 10th century, but it may be coming back into style. Not that we will worry about it.
We just need to recognize that there are people with little or no money who live well. And there are people with a lot of money who live badly.
Our goal is to live better. We will take as a challenge and a point of pride to do so without spending money.
We will have less, but we will treasure our frugality as a man might value a collection of old cars or well-developed biceps.
Then – as our days decline, our appetite wanes, and our energy subsides with the tides of life – our treasure of nothing increases, for we will need less and less.
A bed. A book. A candle. What more could we want?
Yes, we are talking about a program of radical deprivation and happy pennilessness. Our goal would be to feel superior to rich people… without having any money.
We will wear our newfound love of poverty as a badge of honor…!
By Nick Giambruno, Editor, Crisis Investing
The stage is set for the collapse of the world’s largest economy – the European Union. The trigger: Italy’s exit from the euro currency.
The Financial Times recently put it this way:
An Italian exit from the single currency would trigger the total collapse of the eurozone within a very short period. It would probably lead to the most violent economic shock in history, dwarfing the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 and the 1929 Wall Street crash.
If the FT is even partially right, it means we’re looking at a possible stock market crash of historic proportions. It could devastate anyone with a brokerage account. But it could also present enormous opportunities to profit.
Here’s how it could happen…
What started out as a joke has become Italy’s most popular political party.
In 2007, Beppe Grillo, an Italian actor and comedian, launched Vaffanculo Day (“vaffanculo” is Italian for “f*** off”).
Grillo and his followers used V-Day to bluntly express their displeasure over establishment Italian politicians, using imagery from the movie V for Vendetta.
V-Day helped organize Italians frustrated by their political system. It gave birth to the Five Star Movement, Italy’s new populist political party.
Grillo’s Five Star Movement – or M5S, as it’s known by its Italian acronym – is anti-globalist, anti-euro, and anti-establishment. It doesn’t neatly fall into the left/right political paradigm.
According to the latest polls, M5S is now the most popular party in Italy. It won mayoral elections in Rome and Turin earlier this year.
M5S is riding a wave of populist anger at entrenched political elites over economic stagnation. Italy has had virtually no productive growth since it joined the euro in 1999.
M5S blames Italy’s chronic lack of growth on the euro. A large plurality of Italians agree.
M5S has promised to hold a vote to leave the euro and return to Italy’s old currency, the lira, as soon as they’re in power. Under these circumstances it would probably pass.
Meanwhile, the current pro-EU Italian government of Matteo Renzi is holding a referendum on changing the Italian constitution later this year.
This referendum is on limiting the powers of the Italian senate, which is seen as a source of political gridlock. Opponents say it could open the door to another strongman like Benito Mussolini.
More importantly, it’s effectively a vote of confidence in the current pro-EU government. Voting against it is a way for the average Italian to give the finger to the EU bureaucrats in Brussels.
Renzi has promised to resign if it fails.
If the referendum fails, M5S – the anti-euro populist part – will almost certainly come to power… and a pathway to the dissolution of the euro will be opened.
That’s why Italy’s upcoming constitutional referendum is so significant. It’s why I just spent two weeks on the ground in Italy to get the scoop on this explosive story that almost nobody else is talking about.
P.S. New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and I just released an urgent video with all the details about what’s going on in Italy right now. In it, we reveal how these events could ultimately touch off a financial shock in America far greater than 2008. And it could begin as early as December 4th, 2016.
But as Doug has shown throughout his storied career, the worst crises offer the biggest opportunities for gain. That’s why our video describes specific ways to profit… as well as which stocks to avoid before the crucial December date.
You can get a first look at this video here.
Don’t Focus on the Market!
One of the best stock pickers in the business pays little attention to Mr. Market. In fact, he says, “when people start talking about the overall market, it just doesn’t have much meaning to me.”
10 Reasons You’re Not a Value Investor
How do you know if you are a value investor or a pretender? The easiest way: Consider what would make you a value pretender. You may be surprised by what you discover…
Want to Boost Your Yield? Lower Your Fund Fees
The only yield you can spend is whatever yield you have left over after fees. How can you give your portfolio income a boost? Look for income funds with lower fees.
More feedback today on the latest issue of The Bill Bonner Letter, “Evil Is the Root of All Money.” (Paid-up subscribers can access it here.)
No, the love of money is the root of all evil!
– Alan B.
We live in a rapacious society. No such society can survive.
– Peter W.
You may enjoy knowing the origin of the infamous quote you reverse for effect (if you don’t already).
The original Latin became misquoted to say and/or mean what most people believe the phrase says: that money is the root of all evil. This is incorrect. The original classical Latin, as well the Medieval Latin say it the same way: Radix malorum est cupiditas.
Translation: "The root of all evil is avarice." One might also say greed.
– Randy F.
The worst crises offer the biggest opportunities. And, right now, there are events unfolding in Italy that could ultimately set off a financial shock in America far greater than what we saw in 2008.
That’s exactly why Casey Research founder Doug Casey and his team just released this urgent video. In it, you will learn how to protect yourself in this coming financial storm, and specific ways to profit from it.