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“We are witnessing the mother of all bubbles” – Part II

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Interview with Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo – Part II of II Claudio Grass (CG): We often refer to inflation as a “hidden tax” or a “silent thief”, due to the fact that most of the time, its effects are hardly noticed by the average household in real time. However, this time appears to be different. Food, electricity, fuel, cars, and so much more, are all getting more expensive by the minute, while central planners are blaming the private sector and “capitalist greed”. Do you think that’s an accurate explanation?     Fernando del Pino (FdP): Politicians will blame everyone except themselves. There is one important point I would like to highlight: when people talk about the “free market”, they tend to focus on the “market” part. Wrong. They should focus on “free”, because when

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Interview with Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo – Part II of II

Claudio Grass (CG): We often refer to inflation as a hidden tax” or a silent thief”, due to the fact that most of the time, its effects are hardly noticed by the average household in real time. However, this time appears to be different. Food, electricity, fuel, cars, and so much more, are all getting more expensive by the minute, while central planners are blaming the private sector and capitalist greed”. Do you think thats an accurate explanation?    

Fernando del Pino (FdP): Politicians will blame everyone except themselves. There is one important point I would like to highlight: when people talk about the “free market”, they tend to focus on the “market” part. Wrong. They should focus on “free”, because when you attack the free market you are really attacking personal freedom, and there is a trend towards the destruction of personal freedom, often under the alibi of “allowing” people to vote every four years. Democracy has been sold as synonym of freedom, and that’s certainly not the case. Don’t trust me: trust your own eyes, both in the obvious reduction in personal freedom suffered in the last few decades or in how Western “democracies” are crushing their own people with the excuse of a run-of-the-mill epidemic, by historical standards. Look at Australia, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, France…the detention facilities, the covid passports to help cover up the vaccine fiasco, etc. 

Those who cherish freedom should always be on alert towards political power, be it of one individual, of one oligarchy or of the “majority” (which in practice is always the power of an oligarchy), because all of them will tend to abuse it. Free market means that you can fulfill your God-given talents with the aim of moving towards personal perfection and rendering service to others, that you are independent from the State and depend only on your efforts and gifts and the support of your loved ones, that you can work and live wherever you choose and be able to buy the cheapest or best product or service provided by free competition – that is, the antithesis of Communism or its heirs. 

Power junkies do not want rich societies, where individuals are financially independent. Not at all! They’d rather rule over poverty-stricken societies where everyone depends on the State, that is, on the politicians and bureaucrats that control the State’s machinery. The whole “Great Reset” totalitarian lunacy is about reducing personal liberty and thereby impoverishing the world for the sake of the power of the few. Therefore, yes, they might perfectly well blame capitalism or any other innocent scapegoat that happened to pass by.

CG: Staying on the topic of skyrocketing prices, we recently witnessed a mainstream media frenzy and wall-to-wall coverage of the COP26 climate summit. Lots of grand promises and commitments were made, however, most citizens arguably fail to realize what any of that means for them, on a practical level. Do you think the public will keep supporting a vague idea of saving the planet” once that translates to higher taxes, heavier regulatory burdens and higher energy prices? 

FdP: After 15 years studying climate science, reading and getting in touch with renowned experts and academics from around the world, I have no doubt whatsoever that the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming mania as it is promoted in the media and by politicians is a hoax (I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person). Up until now, it was a question of social virtue and political correctness to say that you also wanted to “save the planet” from the very food of trees, cereals and plants without thinking twice. Most people were led to confuse the innocuous, wonderful CO2 with other pollutants that might pose a risk on health. Now, I have hardly found anyone that does not want blue oceans and green forests or that doesn’t admire nature and its awesome diversity, myself included, but this a completely different story from the mainstream narrative, that has to do with power and ideology rather than with science or with preserving nature for future generations. 

That we might think that man is so important and powerful that a) he can control the planet’s climate with a CO2 (0,04% of the Atmosphere) button and b) that he can understand how a complex, non-linear, chaotic and multifactorial system works with a few computer models and even dare to make accurate predictions decades and centuries in advance when he cannot forecast next week’s weather, is completely laughable. The Earth is a small planet in a small solar system in a medium-sized galaxy in the middle of the Universe, but modern man’s arrogance is limitless. 

It is true that once people understand that the current deceptive climate agenda has clear, present and very specific dire consequences in their daily lives and economies, they will start wondering whether the price to pay for a feverishly speculative idea which is not rooted neither on common sense nor on scientific evidence is worth it. The huge increase in the cost of electricity is a case in point. Blackouts might be an even better deterrent. We owe so much to fossil fuels that this madness of crowds still amazes me. This whole story reflects the sinister nature of the power junkies, the emptiness of Western societies, devoid of the notion of God, or good and evil, having lost their moral compass and therefore their capacity for sound judgement. It also reflects the huge force of human gregariousness – the need to belong – and consequently the efficiency of the threat of being expelled from the tribe for not complying with “political correctness”. Finally, we have witnessed the sad corruption of science and scientists, of media and journalists and, of course, of global institutions. We need better accountability, more transparency and less naive citizens, but above all, we need a moral Renaissance.

CG: Overall, if there is one common denominator among all these issues, is that dissenting voices are often smothered and expressing doubt is equivalent to heresy.  From monetary and fiscal policy to climate change, there appears to be only one acceptable opinion. Do you see an existential threat to free speech and to open debate and what would be the implications of that?

FdP: Today’s aggressive offensive on personal liberty is beyond anything I would have imagined even just a few years ago. Big Tech’s censorship, self-censorship and the persecution, demonization and silencing of the dissident, bloodless as they are, would make Stalin and Hitler pale in comparison. We should wake up to the reality that free speech is being openly persecuted, and that the new totalitarianism takes no prisoners. However, to my dismay, people remain to a large extent unaware or indifferent. 

People should understand that a lie always needs violence to be imposed, because the truth makes its way through on its own weight. So the obvious violence of Big Tech’s and the media’s shameless censorship is a sign that a huge deception lies behind. By default, the logical starting thought should be: if they don’t allow me to say this or read that it is because it’s true. Otherwise, why the fear mongering, why the prohibition, why the coercion? The fact that so many people simply accept that a group of megalomaniacs dictate what can be said or opined and just move on with their day, instead of signing out en masse from their clone-creating platforms as a protest is a worrying sign of the times. 

But then again, not thinking is easier than thinking, and we cannot take for granted that the average individual actually values liberty or personal responsibility – he might simply prefer to follow orders and live under the illusion of safety provided by his masters; a new form of comfortable slavery. The new chains might be instant material gratification, the creation of apocalyptic fears, and social media’s, carefully crafted, addiction to narcissism and intermittent reinforcement from complete strangers, which make individuals particularly vulnerable to manipulation. 

However, I think the best days of social media might be behind us. The very deficit of focused attention they create on their users accelerate their users’ boredom and the need to move on. In a way, they were the architects of their own destruction. Also, at some point in time, people will miss the personal, real, true relationships they once had before screens controlled their lives and will seek to recover them. 

CG: Theres one particular group in our societies that always pays the price of monetary expansionism and of aggressive fiscal policies, namely business owners, ordinary middle class families and responsible, long-term investors and savers. Taxes, inflation and all kinds financial repression measures target them first and hit them the hardest. During these uncertain times, what would be your advice to them on how to preserve their savings and protect what they worked for, for the next generation?

FdP: We are living such Orwellian times that sometimes I feel that the apparition of a pack of aliens on UFOs would be a breath of fresh air. Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful poem “If” starts with the following verse: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” The whole poem, and particularly the first strophe, should be required reading nowadays. 

Preserving’s one’s wealth today is no easy feat – not easier than preserving one’s mental health amidst the madness of crowds. My advice is nothing especially original nor worthy of a Nobel Prize: hold a diversified portfolio of gold, cash, and global value stocks, lower your expectations and fasten your seat belts. I have never seen anyone valuing gold in a way that made complete sense to me, but of course gold has a value despite the fact that it is a sterile asset with no cash flow attached, as critics – usually from the US or countries that have never experienced a currency crisis – like to point out without too much thought. 

Saint Bernardino of Sienna, a 14th century Catholic priest, a very interesting economic thinker, stated that value was composed of three elements: usefulness (in Latin, virtuositas), scarcity (raritas) and desirability (complacibilitas). Scarcity is objective, usefulness is usually objective, sometimes subjective, while desirability is completely subjective. Now, gold has one inherent element of value, which is its scarcity, and will have, in my view, an increasing share of desirability in the midst of currency destruction and utter craziness from political, fiscal and monetary authorities currently in place. I remain more doubtful on its usefulness, in the sense of returning to some sort of gold standard. Today’s uncertainties should be reflected on a moderate and prudent asset allocation decision. However, I would like to end this interview by bringing in a beam of hope, which can never be tarnished by external circumstances, harsh as they may be. This too shall pass, socially, politically and financially, and we should try to live through the current turbulence with inner peace, focused on the important things in life, on our real world around us, which is our circle of loved ones, withstanding these times together with fortitude and keeping our faith in a loving God that remains the Lord of History. I am a Christian, and I suggest these upcoming Christmas to listen to the beautiful Michael Card’s song Immanuel, full of hope and joy, and find that Love always wins, as St. John Paul II used to say. Merry Christmas to everyone.

Claudio Grass, Hünenberg See, Switzerland

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Claudio Grass
Claudio Grass is a passionate advocate of free-market thinking and libertarian philosophy. Following the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics he is convinced that sound money and human freedom are inextricably linked to each other. He is one of the founders of GoldAndLiberty.com.

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