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29 Things I Learned From Sir John Templeton About Investing

Sir John Templeton is one of the world’s most successful investors

Although sadly he is not as well known as others such as Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham.

What John Templeton is most well known for was his September 1939 investment play where he took big positions on undervalued companies just as World War Two was breaking out in Europe.

Templeton used borrowed money to buy $100 worth of every stock on the US exchanges that was selling for less than $1 per share. He held the stocks for an average of four years and quadrupled his money in the process.

John Templeton is also famous as being one of the pioneers of international investment. At a time when US investors focused mostly on US markets, Templeton was investing all over the world. He searched for bargain stocks wherever he could find them.

This list is 29 things that I learned from Sir John Templeton about investing and investment strategy.

The first 16 are my quick summaries of ideas that come directly from the man himself in a very convenient short book titled 16 Rules for Investment Success.

The remaining 13 are insights that I have picked up from Templeton’s other writing or books that have

2022-04-19T05:00:15+00:00April 19th, 2022|
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How To Be A Better Gold Investor

I first became a gold investor because I learned the history of it.

I learned about the thousands of years gold has been money.

I learned about the classical gold standard, Bretton Woods and how Nixon’s actions in 1971 removed the last link between our money and gold.

I came to understand that how gold has been rising ever since Nixon took that step, or rather that the dollar has been falling against gold.

Yet I wasn’t a very good investor when I made my first gold purchase. In fact, I bought right at the peak in 2011. I knew the long term gold story and I finally had some spare cash to invest, so I bought.

It turned out to be a bad financial move. I knew it had run up but I thought it was going much higher. A lot of wise heads were saying that the government stimulus in the wake of the GFC would push gold way up.

In the short term they were wrong. It corrected and I got caught out. But I still believe in the thesis that gold will go much higher because of monetary debasement.

In hindsight I just got my timing badly wrong on my first entry

2022-03-18T03:03:14+00:00February 26th, 2022|
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5 Lessons We Can Learn From The Inflation In Ancient Rome

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire is a cautionary tale and one that we can draw many insights from.

It’s quite natural that we look at the story of Ancient Rome and draw comparisons to our American dominated world and wonder whether a similar story will play out for us.

As Glen Bowersock wrote of the Roman Empire:

“We have been obsessed with the fall: it has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline, and, hence, as a symbol for our own fears.”

For investors in particular there is a lot to learn from the inflation in Rome that ravaged the empire towards the end.

There are parallels we can draw between the debasement of the Roman coinage and the debasement of modern fiat currencies.

We wonder, where along the curve are we?

Are we at the beginning, are we towards the end and what are the consequences going to be?

Will we go down with civil war, economic chaos and foreign invasion and into a long period of civilizational decline, like the Romans?

Or will it be more like the recent example of the British Empire, where financial and military power recedes and yet the nation remains a significant player in the

2022-03-18T03:03:26+00:00January 26th, 2022|
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The Social Cost Of Unsound Money

The economic problems caused by unsound money are well known and well discussed amongst financial commentators who understand the problems in our monetary system.

What is not discussed quite so widely is the social harm.

Unsound money or fiat money causes distortions in the economy and gives us the boom-bust cycle.

The steady debasement of our currency is a transfer of wealth from savers and wages earners to those who own assets. It destroys the middle class.

But it also inflames consumerism, reduces the length and quality of life, elevates the state at the expense of the family and creates a generational and class divide.

I think the reason the social harm of unsound money isn’t discussed as much is because it is not as immediately obvious as the economic harms.

It is also less fun to talk about because you can’t make investment gains from it. Talking about the economic cost of unsound money is exciting if you are making gains hand over fist in Bitcoin.

I’ve even seen people gloating on Twitter about how much they enjoy high inflation because it’s good for their portfolio.

Talking about the social problems can sometimes just be plain depressing.

However, this is something I care deeply

2022-03-18T03:03:39+00:00December 21st, 2021|
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22 Things Benjamin Graham’s Value Investing Principles Taught Me

Benjamin Graham’s value investing principles are timeless.

I first read Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor in 2017, after seeing it recommended by several commentators and newsletter writers that I followed.

I’m glad I read it when I did, as at least I had some investing experience by then. I think it did more good for me then than if I had been a total beginner, where some of it would have been lost on me.

I wouldn’t say I was completely blown away. But I think that was primarily because many of the the investors and commentators that I followed subscribed to Graham’s philosophy, so I had already imbibed much of that thinking.

Still, it did have a profound impact on me and crystallised some important concepts.

There is something about taking the time to read a book over a number of days or weeks that helps important ideas settle deep within your psyche, rather than the cursory exposure you get from reading a short article such as this.

Nevertheless, here are the key things I learned from Benjamin Graham about value investing in a quick and easy to read format.

But seriously, read The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis if you want to

2022-03-18T03:03:52+00:00November 23rd, 2021|
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5 Reasons To Consider Purchasing Hard Asset Stocks

Hard asset stocks are a convenient way to get exposure to the underlying asset and can be either defensive or a great speculation.

What you are looking for are equities that own a lot of tangible assets and whose valuation is primarily composed of that hard asset exposure.

This is significantly different from something like tech stocks, which often have little in the way of hard assets.

Hard assets are things like real estate, farmland, gold and silver, infrastructure and transportation. There is some tangible physical wealth that you can touch and feel with intrinsic value.

Stocks on the other hand are paper assets or soft assets. Buying stocks does not allow you to hold tangible wealth in your hands.

They are tradable financial instruments that merely represent a claim of ownership; they don’t have any other functionality.

So if you want genuine hard asset protection, you should buy hard assets.

For example, it is always recommended to build a position in physical gold before you start considering purchasing shares in gold mining stocks.

However, if you are happy with how you are positioned in hard assets you might consider investing in stocks with hard asset exposure.

Even though you are buying a paper claim, you are in

2022-04-19T05:06:00+00:00October 26th, 2021|
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How A Financial Crisis Caused The French Revolution

The assignat of the French Revolutionary period is one of the worst paper money disasters in history.

It started with the failure of the state’s finances.

In 1789, the French monarchy found itself in a perilous financial position.

In the preceding decades attempts to bring the state’s financial position under control had failed and France had a crushing debt and a massive deficit.

A deficit of 41.7 million livres in 1781 exploded to 116.1 million livres in 1789.

Given that the French monarchy did not have fiat money, they could only increase their revenue through taxation or borrowing.

Tax reform was needed to save the monarchy but because of political gridlock it didn’t happen. Throughout the squabbling of the 1780s the government continued to borrow. That is until they exhausted their ability to borrow any more.

With no ability to raise new taxes and public pressure ruling out the option of bankruptcy, the Crown’s only remaining option was to turn to paper money.

Better financial management, or rather a willingness to confront the difficult political decisions that better financial management would entail, would have restored confidence and perhaps avoided the subsequent events that became the French Revolution.

But sadly good financial sense did not prevail.

Unable to solve the financial

2022-03-18T03:04:18+00:00September 28th, 2021|
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3 Lessons For Investors From The Russian Hyperinflation Of 1992

In 1985 the Soviet Union was a global superpower, second only to the United States.

Since 1917 she had embarked on a unique path, with a command economy based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.

Despite the warnings of economics such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, through much of the 20th century socialist system gave the appearance of working well. But by the 1970s and 1980s the cracks were beginning to show.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev took the reins as the new Soviet leader. The economy was stagnating and Gorbachev knew things needed to change.

At that stage the inflation rate stood at 4.6%. Gorbachev wasn’t facing a terminal crisis but rather a slow decline.

But things would soon change.

Gorbachev embarked on a series of economic reforms known as “perestroika” or “restructuring.” He did this along with a range of political reforms that would weaken the grip of the Communist Party on the country.

He naively believed that these reforms would preserve the socialist economy and preserve the Soviet Union as a global power. Yet the changes created a tidal wave of opposition that spiraled out of Gorbachev’s control.

By 1990 the inflation rate had risen to 19%.

In the first quarter of 1991 the budget

2022-03-18T03:04:41+00:00August 23rd, 2021|
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4 Lessons Investors Can Learn From The Weimar Hyperinflation Of 1923

The Weimar hyperinflation of 1923 has become the poster child for hyperinflation horror stories.

It was one of the world’s worst periods of hyperinflation and unleashed financial, political and social chaos on the German nation.

It resulted in the crash of the stock market, the destruction of the currency and prompted Hitler into his first attempt to seize power.

While such a rapid destruction of an economy is not a regular occurrence, the Weimar story provides a valuable insight into the process of inflation and gives a lesson into how to protect yourself from an erosion of purchasing power.

Let’s start in 1921, two years before when people commonly think the Weimar hyperinflation began.

During the second half of the year official food prices rose 50%.

Children were so malnourished that a study found that they were two years behind both physically and mentally for their age. Milk was only available for the sick during the winter. Poor women would scrounge through the garbage of wealthier households, hoping to find sustenance for their children.

Things were bad in post-war Germany, but the worst was yet to come.

As the German mark was falling rapidly it made no sense to save money, as its value would be destroyed.

2022-03-18T03:04:54+00:00July 24th, 2021|
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