John Maynard Keynes, the founder of our current economic philosophy, monetary system and policies on fiat currency management made this wise statement:
“THE MARKET CAN STAY IRRATIONAL LONGER THAN YOU CAN STAY SOLVENT”. Isn’t that the truth. And this is why he said it.
“Keynes soon learned that short-term currency trading on high margin, using only his long-term economic predictions as a guide, was foolhardy. By late May, despite his belief that the U.S. dollar should rise, it didn’t. And the Deutschmark, which Keynes had bet against, refused to fall. To Keynes’s dismay, the Deutschmark began a three-month rally.
Keynes was wiped out. Whereas in April he had been sitting on net profits of £14,000, by the end of May these had reversed into losses of £13,125. His brokers asked Keynes for £7,000 to keep his account open. A well known, but anonymous, financier provided him with a loan of £5,000. Sales of Keynes’s recently published book The Economic Consequences of Peace had turned out to be healthy and a letter to his publisher asking for an advance elicited a cheque for £1,500.
Keynes was thus able to scrape together the money he needed to continue trading. He had learned a valuable but painful lesson - markets can act perversely in the short-term. Of this, he later famously commented:”
“The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”
Ok, he was a great economists and I guess a good trader, as he borrowed his way out of a margin call with a loan from a fat cat. But is this the kind of mind we should doggedly follow off an economic cliff of paper money spending?
You can borrow your way out of a problem? There are real psychological problems with codifying this kind of philosophy into economic law. John was a risk taker. He opened a brokerage account with $4000 pounds of his own money and was given leverage of $40,000. 10 to 1 leverage. That’s risk. He used his own philosophy to lose money and then he borrowed money to cover the margin call from an unidentified financier. That’s risky. He helped bail himself out of a $7000 pound margin call with a book on risk management. Now that’s just a little crazy.
From:R.F. Harrod - The Life Of John Maynard Keynes, 1951
John Maynard Keynes - The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936