462 episodes

Readings of brilliant articles from the Flying Frisby. Occasional super-fascinating interviews. Market commentary, investment ideas and more.


The Flying Frisby - money, markets and more Dominic Frisby

    • Business
    • 4.7 • 54 Ratings

Readings of brilliant articles from the Flying Frisby. Occasional super-fascinating interviews. Market commentary, investment ideas and more.


    Why We Need Anonymity on the Internet

    Why We Need Anonymity on the Internet

    A few years ago I wrote a script called Four Murders and Some Funerals, about an old lady who is the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice. Seeking revenge she murders one of the perpetrators (by accident - long story, but it works), discovers she’s a natural at bumping people off, does away with the other three, and ends up becoming a vigilante serial killer - righting wrongs wherever she finds them and usually where the law has failed. I still think it was a pretty good script, though it never got made - a bit like Miss Marple, only more savage and retributionist. 
    Anyway, as a result of writing said script, I had to come up with a number of original ways by which an old lady might kill people: I had one person pushed down a lift shaft, another electrocuted in the bath, another shot and another poisoned. This all involved quite a bit of research, especially the various poisons. Should our heroine use cyanide, polonium, fentanyl or botulinum, for example?
    For obvious reasons, I wasn’t quite comfortable googling all the questions I had, so I took to Tor, DuckDuckGo and internet anonymity. I’m glad I did because, believe you me, how to murder someone is one heck of an internet rabbit hole to go down. Before long I was reading about hiring Chechen hitmen and lord knows what else. 
    Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, researching a script about a murderer is a fairly trivial use case for internet anonymity. But I don’t think the day is far away when your internet search history - which Google keeps forever, by the way, unless you take steps to delete it - will be taken into account for things like insurance risk, profiling, social credit score, by potential employers and so on. I don’t think several days researching how to kill someone reflects particularly well. 
    Of relevance, one of my followers tells me that Justin Trudeau is trying to impose a law whereby police can retroactively search the Internet for ‘hate speech’ violations and arrest offenders, even if the offence occurred before the law existed.
    But you don’t have to be asking questions about how to kill someone to want anonymity. You might be living under some extreme theological regime, asking questions like is there a god; or under a totalitarian regime, asking questions about freedom; or under a corrupt and incompetent regime, asking questions about vaccine safety. You get the point. Anonymity protects you. It limits the power that others have over you and the ability they have to control you. It enables you to protect your reputation, and stop things from being used against you, especially out of context. It gives you greater control over your own data and thus your destiny. 
    But let’s say I did actually want to kill someone, and that I even researched how to do it, before deciding not to. The only crime I would be guilty of is thought. But if my search history can be used against me, it doesn’t matter if, ten years later I have moved on from the murder thing, it’s still there, and if the police or some activist decided to uncover it, I would, in the eyes of many, forever be guilty of murder, even if I had committed no such crime, beyond thinking about it - which, I bet, most of us have at some point in our darkest hours.
    For me the most powerful use case is freedom of thought. Being anonymous is liberating. I’m sure that is why masked balls proved so popular.  If you know you are being watched, you are less likely to explore new ideas outside the mainstream, ideas which family, friends, colleagues or even society may dislike. These might be philosophical, political or theological ideas, scientific or artistic. We might want to express thoughts we otherwise feel unable to express. A lot of things, if judged from a different time or place, by people who lack complete knowledge or understanding, may seem odd or worse intolerable. Anonymity protects against having to worry about how actions are perceived and against  const

    • 7 min
    Brown's Bottom: 25 Years On

    Brown's Bottom: 25 Years On

    Good morning,
    As an experiment, today’s Sunday morning thought piece is in video. If you prefer, you can also read it below. You should also be able to read and listen, as many like to do.
    Let me know what you think.
    This week, May 7th, marks the 25th anniversary of one the UK’s greatest ever financial blunders. There is no shortage of them, but this one really stands out: that is Gordon Brown’s decision to sell more than half of Britain’s gold. 
    The decision and then its implementation were both of such cack-handed incompetence that for many the only possible explanation is conspiracy. We will come to that in a moment.
    Every now and then the government does something that makes your ears prick up and think, “Well what are they doing that for?” This was one of those times. I knew nothing about gold or investing back then, but, even I, could see it was a dumb and needless thing to do. That’s the most amazing thing: Brown was under no pressure to sell. He was under no pressure to do anything. Even non-libertarians will struggle to explain why we need government when they are this incompetent.
    It wasn’t just me. The tabloids said the decision was, “catastrophic.” Gold traders called it, “appalling”. Parliament was outraged. Foreign central banks were too. What was Gordon Brown thinking?
    It was two years into Brown’s new job as Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the time, the UK held approximately 715 tonnes of gold, worth around $6.5 billion. The value of the country’s gold amounted to about half of its US$13 billion foreign currency reserves and the Treasury wanted to “achieve a better balance in the portfolio”. There was, it said, too much exposure to a single asset, which paid no interest and its price was volatile. Via a written question in the House of Commons the Government suddenly announced that it would be holding a series of auctions for its gold reserves, starting in six weeks, with an eventual plan to sell 415 tonnes by 2002. 
    Eddie George, the Governor of the Bank of England, raised “strong objections” as he and Gordon Brown clashed, but he was “outgunned by a coalition of the treasury and some of his own senior officials”. "The sale of the gold was not something that we recommended at the Bank,” George later said. “We did not think it was a good idea to sell such a large amount of gold at once. However, the decision was taken by the Chancellor and his advisors, and we respected their right to make that decision."
    London was still (just) at the epicentre of the gold market and its numerous gold traders thought the decision was nuts. Gold prices move in decades-long cycles, they told Bank of England officials, and the price was likely a lot nearer the bottom than the top.  “The timing of the decision was ludicrous. We told them, ‘You are going to push the gold price down before you sell’,” said Peter Fava, then head of precious metal dealing at HSBC. “We thought it was a disastrous decision; we couldn’t understand it.” Revealing the timings and amounts for sale so far in advance would cause traders to short the asset, and that would drive the gold price lower.
    Not only did Brown give a six-week advance notice to the market that the UK would be selling, driving away any potential buyers and sending speculators short in advance of the sale, the UK had even lent one fifth of its gold out, which speculators borrowed and sold in order to front run the UK’s sale. Sure enough, the price fell 10% by the time of the first auction in July to lows not seen since shortly after the US abandoned the gold standard in 1971. No wonder so many see this as the worst decision in British financial history.
    Here is the timing of that first sale illustrated. £150/oz. Today we are at £1,900/oz. What a bunch of clowns. 
    As soon as the commitment was made, a consortium of central banks - including the European Central Bank and the Bank of England - signed the Washington Agreemen

    • 11 min
    Why It Is Inevitable That Modern Buildings Will Be Ugly.

    Why It Is Inevitable That Modern Buildings Will Be Ugly.

    I love how easy it is to predict things about you based on what you like or dislike.
    Did you know, for example, that if you buy fresh fennel, you are likely to be a low insurance risk? If you like traditional architecture and old buildings, you are more likely to have a conservative, right-of-centre worldview. Whereas if you like modern architecture, you will lean to the left.
    For what it’s worth, there are plenty of 20th-century buildings that I find beautiful. I like Art Deco; I like Bauhaus stuff; I think a lot of modern US residential architecture is great. But I think a lot of more recent Deconstructivist and Parametric stuff has disappeared up its state-funded backside and has no chance of standing the test of time. Post-war social housing the world over is verging on the sinful, it is so ugly, not a patch on the almshouses built a century before for the same purpose, when mankind was far less “advanced”. Meanwhile, the glass-fronted apartment and office blocks that blight cities worldwide may be nice to look out from, but to look at they are horrible.
    When I look at, for example, what has been built in Lewisham, Elephant and Castle or along the banks of the Thames, you have to wonder what on earth people were thinking. What a wasted opportunity to build something with beauty that endures.
    I was looking out on the Thames from Canary Wharf the other day. Here is what we built.
    Here is what was possible.
    In any case, it is inevitable that most modern architecture will not be beautiful. Inevitable! It is built into the system. Let me explain why.
    Yes, there is regulation. When final say falls to the regulator, not the creator, and he/she never thinks in terms of beauty, only rules and career risk, and construction is always planned with his or her approval in mind, you immediately clip your wings and more. Imagine Michelangelo, Rembrandt, or Beethoven requiring regulatory approval for their work. Under this banner falls health and safety, bureaucracy, the technocratic mentality, planning, standardisation of materials and their mass production, and more.
    But there is something even more fundamental, which makes lack of beauty inevitable. That is the system of measurement itself.
    In the past, before mass-produced tape measures were a thing, we made do with the most immediate tools we had to measure things: the human body. Traditional weights and measures were all based around the human body. A foot is, well, a foot. A hand is a hand. A span is a hand stretched out. An inch is a thumb. There are four thumbs to a hand, six to a span, 12 to a foot, 18 to a cubit, which is the distance from elbow to fingertip. A yard is a pace, which happens to be three feet as well. A fathom is the arms stretched out - two yards, or six feet. It goes on: a pound is roughly what you can hold comfortably in your hand. A furlong is the distance a man of average fitness can sprint for. A stone is what you can carry without strain. A US pint is a pound of water, enough to quench a thirst, and so on.
    Man is indeed the measure of all things, to paraphrase Protagoras.
    Spread the truth about weights and measures.

    Da Vinci noticed it. “Nature has thus arranged the measurements of a man: four fingers make one palm. And four palms make one foot; six palms make one cubit; four cubits make once a man's height," he says in his notes for Vitruvian Man.
    It turns out the feet are very similar the world over and have been throughout history. The foot, for example, was the principal unit in the design of Stonehenge. Here are some different feet from around the world and from throughout history:
    The cubit was the principal unit of the Pyramids. The pound is the oldest measure of all and goes all the way back to the Babylonian mina.
    Here’s the thing: proportion is inherent to traditional weights and measures because they derive from the human body, which is proportionate. We are biologically programmed to find the proportions of the human body attra

    • 9 min
    The British Pound: Big Falls Coming?

    The British Pound: Big Falls Coming?

    This is a free preview of a paid episode. To hear more, visit www.theflyingfrisby.com

    I was going to call this article “a tale of national betrayal.” Sterling is a national disgrace. If ever there was something that symbolised the decline of Britain from world leader to tin pot sh*te show, it is our currency. The US dollar has lost at least 93% of its purchasing power since World War Two. The pound, which was a few cents shy of $5 at the onset of war and today sits at $1.24, has lost an additional 75% against the US dollar.
    It’s shocking. An appalling betrayal by successive leaderships. When you devalue your currency, you devalue your entire country: the people’s labour, their savings, their assets.
    As long-time readers will know, I have identified a long-term cycle in the pound, and the next capitulation is due this year. If this plays out, then the pound is about to hit the skids.
    Don’t get wedded to the idea of a cycle
    Let me start with my usual disclaimer: it’s easy to look back at the past, find some arbitrary pattern, declare it a cycle, write some persuasive copy, and, all of a sudden, you’re a guru. When things don’t pan out as they should, you blame some outside factor, usually the government.
    Cycles do exist. We have the seasons, the moons, the cycle of life. There are good times and bad times. There are investment cycles too: bull markets and bear markets, the Kondratiev cycle, the 18-year cycle in real estate, commodities super-cycles, the 4-year presidential cycle. Mining is cyclical. New tech goes through a clear cycle as it evolves. I’m a big believer in the hype cycle.
    Yet actually trading them in real time is hard.
    Thinking in terms of cycles does help you to frame the bigger picture: it can give you an idea where you are in the grand scheme of things. But you can easily get wedded to the idea of a particular cycle, and then it’s very hard to break the mindset, even if real life right in front of you is telling a very different story.
    I remember people in the years after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) being wedded to the idea of Kondratiev Winter and the next Great Depression. The Dow was going to 1,000, they said. It never went close and here we are today above 38,000. The problem was that the Kondratiev Winter argument was persuasive, and once you’ve been hooked by a narrative, it’s hard to break its shackles.
    If you are interested in buying gold, check out my recent report. I have a feeling it is going to come in very handy in the not-too-distant future. My recommended bullion dealer is the Pure Gold Company.

    So to Frisby’s Flux
    With all that said, I am now going to argue that there is an 8ish-year cycle in the British pound that goes all the way back to 1968, at least. I’ve called it Frisby’s Flux, because I was the first to observe it and I’ve got to get my name on something.
    We’ll start with a quick skim through recent sterling history, then we’ll look at a chart, and finally, we’ll look at what’s coming next.
    In November 1967, the British government devalued the pound by 14% from $2.80 to $2.40 in order to “achieve a substantial surplus on the balance of payments consistent with economic growth and full employment”.
    In the early 1970s, after the Nixon Shock, the pound rallied against the dollar, but fast forward to 1976, eight (ish) years on, and we are in the year of the IMF crisis when Chancellor Dennis Healy is said to have gone “cap in hand” to borrow money from them. $3.9bn was the agreed sum, at the time the largest loan ever requested. Inflation in the UK reached 24%. From high to low, sterling lost around 40%, reaching $1.60.
    The pound recovered, and by the early 1980s, sterling was back above $2.40.
    Move forward eight years and we come to 1984 when the pound would drop by more than 55% to reach an all-time low against the dollar – $1.04 - in early 1985. This was during the miners’ strike and shortly after the Falklands War, but the re

    • 6 min
    Fiat Money Collapse, the Remonetization of Gold and Hyperbitcoinization

    Fiat Money Collapse, the Remonetization of Gold and Hyperbitcoinization

    This is a free preview of a paid episode. To hear more, visit www.theflyingfrisby.com

    Cards on the table: A Western fiat money collapse, along the lines of Zimbabwe, Venezuela, or Weimar hyperinflation, despite unsustainable deficit spending and un-payable government debt, is not something I think we are likely to see.
    Many more knowledgeable souls than myself deem it inevitable, but more probable in my view is just the continued debasement of currency and the erosion of its value, so that, with the incremental effects of compounding, a generation from now fiat will have lost another 90% or more of its purchasing power.
    Heck, the pound has already lost a third of its value just this decade. Since the beginning of the century, it has fallen by over 90%.
    I guess that constitutes collapse. It all hangs on how you define collapse, I suppose, and over what timeframe.
    Yet, there's one scenario I can envision that could lead to a more rapid collapse, and it's one we might even be careering towards: war.
    If tensions between East and West escalate into full-blown conflict, you can be sure the East will attack Western currencies, just as the US weaponized banking and the dollar following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
    China has lots of gold, as we know, much more than it says it does. Russia has plenty. Shanghai Cooperation Nations are all accumulating. US gold has not been audited for decades, casting doubts over whether it even exists. As for British gold, I wonder what happened to that! In short, Western fiat money is extremely vulnerable should the East decide to attack it. (For the time being at least, I don’t expect it to: China has some $3.25 trillion in reserves, and another $800 billion in US Treasuries. Why collapse their value?)
    But whether Biden or Trump wins in the US elections this autumn, neither is going to balance the books. Nor will Labour here in the UK. So you know that both the pound and the dollar are going to see their value steadily eroded for the next five years. Deficit spending will continue and debts will increase.
    Indeed, outside of a full-on deflationary tightening or collapse - I mean Paul Volcker in 1980 scale tightening - it is impossible for fiat money to see its purchasing power grow. Supply is going to increase, and purchasing power will decline. This is built-in, inherent, and inevitable. Hence why I advocate owning alternative, non-government money - gold and bitcoin.
    Today, I want to explore a scenario in which Western currencies come under attack and are forced to back their currencies with gold. I understand Russia briefly did this in March 2022. In other words, what happens to the gold price if gold gets remonetized?
    Similarly, we’ll explore potential bitcoin prices in the event of hyperbitcoinisation (where bitcoin becomes the dominant global money).
    The Remonetisation of Gold

    • 4 min
    Why Being Gay Makes You Stronger

    Why Being Gay Makes You Stronger

    I have a friend from school who is obviously gay. We’ve all known it for a long time, yet, for whatever reason, he has never been able to come out. He has never been able to admit to himself what is so apparent to everyone else. He’s miserable. Has been for years.
    I’m not sure if I were gay, if I would be able to come out.
    I have actually tried to be gay. Well, sort of. In the dark years of my late 30s and divorce, I thought a couple of times being gay might save me from having to deal with the alien species that is woman, so I tried watching gay porn. I was just bored by it. Within a few minutes I was looking at second-hand cars on Autotrader. I have never found men remotely attractive, even if I can admire a beautiful male physique. The only time I might possibly waver is if they are all dolled up in drag, with glamorous dresses, heels, breasts, makeup, wigs, and all the rest of it. But take the wig off and any spell is broken.
    In any case, to come out as gay requires coming to terms with the truth. I think it is a very brave thing to do.
    I think that’s why so many great social commentators and comedians are gay. Never mind the obvious love of performing and attention; why, for example, a disproportionately large number of actors and dancers are gay. (By disproportionate, I mean the ratio of gay to straight increases in acting and dancing relative to what it is across the broader population). I mean, because of this phenomenon, whereby gay people are able to speak truths; in many cases, truths that straight people are unable or too shy or polite or repressed to express. How often, for example, when watching a gay performer, does the word “outrageous” burst out of the mouths of those watching, often accompanied by a gasp and the hand going over the mouth? Yes, what they are doing or saying may be outrageous, but it is usually outrageous because it is an unspoken truth.
    The act of coming out is enabling because it requires tremendous honesty. That honesty is then carried into other areas of life. I’m sure that’s why, for example, Douglas Murray, is able to say the things that many of us are thinking, but few of us dare articulate. Coming out teaches you to be truthful, and truth is power.
    Even an entertainer like Kenny Everett was so baring of his soul, thereby revealing his vulnerability; I’m sure that is one of the reasons he was so loved. Also, because he was so funny; but often being funny is just being truthful where a subject is taboo.
    In my immediate circle, it is usually my gay friends who are the boldest. I immediately think of comedian Scott Capurro, who has been in the news quite a bit recently for upsetting people. The reason Scott upsets people so regularly is that so much of what he says is so close to the bone. If it were me, I would pull back. But Scott, like so many gay people, is fearless.
    Many of the greatest warriors in the ongoing culture wars are gay. I’m sure it is for the same reason: in this age of increasing censorship, the importance of speaking truth is ever more needed, and gay people are not scared of the truth. They have learnt to come to terms with it
    What’s more, a lot of gay people feel like outsiders, even if we live in much more inclusive times compared to say a century ago. So perhaps, by speaking truths, they do not feel there is as much risk to them as to someone on the inside. Or maybe, by being an outsider—whether by sexuality, or by something else (race, political belief, whatever)—you are forced out on a limb, and that in itself is bracing.
    They say the fool was often the only one who spoke truth to Power. I bet a lot of the time the fool was gay.

    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.theflyingfrisby.com/subscribe

    • 4 min

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