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Title: The Coming Collapse of the Dollar - and How to Profit from It
Authors: James Turk and John Rubino
Copyright: © 2004
Publisher: Doubleday, a division of Random House
Relevance: A helpful book in understanding why the US dollar's tenure over the title of "reserve currency" and its eventual decline are inevitable.
Keywords: US Dollar, politics, currency, gold, economy
Review: We always like picking up and reading pop financial books a couple of years after they're published. The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It was published in late December 2004 and is subtitled How to Make a Fortune by Investing in Gold and Other Hard Assets.
We like looking at financial books in retrospect because frequently and with the benefit of hindsight, the authors can be way off what really happens. As a somewhat non-sequiteur, we include Bill Gates' famous omission about the Internet and World Wide Web that he wrote in 1995. To read Gates' book, one would think that neither technology would play a significant part in the next decade of computer technology and consumer behavior.
So if Gates who, make no mistake, is a genius in just about all things computer-related can make gaffes as large and as high profile as this, it's easy to see how self-described experts in the financial world can completely miss the money boat when it comes to predicting the future and how we should all heed their sage advice.
It is with this background that we took a look at The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It and found with pleasant surprise that most of the authors' doom and gloom predictions have essentially come true, though perhaps not in quite the exact way the authors intended.
The book is well written and researched, although at 226 pages, is a bit short in both detail and analysis. The book provides a historic overview of many previous "world class" currencies and how intrinsically they were doomed to failure. Governments being what they are run by humans who, let's face it, just want to get re-elected will always take the easier path when confronted with the common dilemma of spending within one's means or turning on the printing presses. Although it's a bit more complicated than that, this is what the book essentially boils down to; that no currency can withstand the test of time if it's backed by renewable resources (i.e., trees and ink).
In 2004, the price of gold ranging from a low of $375 USD to a high of 454 USD. Today, it is more than double the 2004 high although it has been still higher in the intervening years. Authors Turk and Rubino do a good job of explaining why in particular the US dollar cannot be considered a long-term stable place for wealth. Between the US government's hyperactive spending, its soaring number of employees, a crippling Iraq war (which strangely is not even mentioned), and a lopsided balance of trade, the future, according to Turk and Rubino looks pretty grim for the US dollar.
Their solution, of course, is gold. That long maintained yet slightly odd storage of money throughout dozens of centuries. The authors don't complicate matters by the yet unseen US housing crisis, the skyrocketing then quickly plummeting oil situation, and other global events nor, strangely, do they comment on other currencies as being potential safe havens for readers namely the Euro, the Canadian dollar or the Swiss Franc.
Despite many "experts" suggesting that these lesser currencies will replace the US dollar as the world reserve currency, it is clear that this will not happen overnight, if at all. The result, then, according to the authors is that readers should seriously consider moving at least some of their dollar-denominated holdings into gold and away from paper money based assets including, presumably, equity stocks.
Although the authors had no way to divine the 2008/2009 credit crunch, their advice, had it been taken in early 2005 would have provided readers with at least some cushion against the horrible deflationary forces to come in two or three years.
The book is aimed at consumers, likely well-to-do middle class people with some appreciable level of disposable income. Let's face it, rich people have well-paid experts to do this for them (and analysis of how well these experts have performed at divining the future is beyond the scope of this review) while the poor, who have no money anyway, don't have to worry.
Overall:The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It is an interesting look now from a historical perspective at how the dollar and by logical extension, many of the so-called fiat currencies (i.e., ones based around paper) are doomed to fail. The book lacks an in-depth analysis from an economic perspective, although we doubt that its intended audience would appreciate this anyway. The book could have done with better organization in that it tends to skip around a lot from topic to topic, but this is a complex issue and we appreciated the short, to-the-point chapters. A good reference for any reporter covering the financial beat, recent history or politics. Recommended.
End of Review
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