This latest edition of Ruff's book is apparently a revised edition of his original book written in the 70s with some things deleted and some new information added on to bring the reader up to date as of the beginnings of the current sub-prime meltdown. My first comment is that it feels a bit cut and pasted. Some passages are repeated verbatim in different sections of the book, some are repeated not quite verbatim but close enough to count as repetitive. Based on this alone, a star has to be deleted.
Otherwise, Ruff's message has not changed much in the intervening 30 years or so which some may argue proves it is "timeless" while others probably feel it's tired. The emphasis is on inflation which leads to some interesting plot turns. He is a huge supporter of gold and even more so, silver because of the rapid printing of fiat currencies. Despite the fact that deflation currently rules, as of this writing (February 2009), gold is near an all-time high and silver is up solidly in the past several months. So, his advice seems correct if not quite for the correct reasons.
One unusual strategy he advocates in the book is to basically leverage up your home with a fixed rate mortgage and put the proceeds in a compounding money market fund. The logic again comes back to his belief that inflation will rule so that the yield on your money market fund will be climbing while your mortgage payments remain constant. Unfortunately for you if you followed this strategy, interest rates have gone down, so this strategy would have worked against you. It still may prove a smart move, but so far, big mistake.
Finally he advocates a basic food storage program adequate for up to six months. He does take pains to explain that he is not expecting the end of the world when he endorses this idea, but he does expect disruptions. As he correctly states, there is no downside to this storage plan. If he's wrong, you eat the insurance (literally). If he's correct, you'll likely be very glad to have the basics around if you are unable to purchase food items easily or perhaps at all.
In conclusion, if you have never been exposed to these sort of ideas, you should be and this book is not a bad place to start. If you are already familiar with the material, it doesn't break any new ground or go into tremendous detail on any subject. Others have pointed out the many plugs for his services which are a bit annoying but easy to ignore.
on December 2, 2008
A good overall primer on the current financial mess as well as some worthwhile suggestions on how to prosper/prepare for what may be happening next. Some of it might seem paranoid, but others would say he's only prudent.
It would be even better if he didn't take so much time trying to sell everybody on his newsletter, but it doesn't take away from the quality of the books message. However, some closer editing might serve the author well (especially considering that this is the second edition) specifically the part where he quotes Alexander Tytler. The quote he mentions roughly says: "Democracy only lasts as long as it takes for the people to realize they can vote themselves benefits from the public treasury."
While it is a true statement, five minutes of Google searching can tell you the quote was never uttered nor written by Alexander Tytler. It was quoted by Reagan in a political speech (probably thrown in there by a careless speech writer) and has been unfortunately repeated in conservative circles as much as "May you live in interesting times" is repeated by intellectuals, pseudo and otherwise. That one was wrongly cited as a "Chinese curse" by RFK in a speech he made in South Africa in 1965 (there is no such expression or curse in Chinese).
Nevertheless, this is a quick primer for anyone who hasn't been paying attention or wants a straightforward explanation to the train wreck we're all witnessing now.
on April 15, 2011
I read this book in the early 1980s and believed the author, who was also doing the television circuit. Taking Ruff's advice, I bought gold and silver at their highs and watched their value fall for decades. Only now, has gold made new highs, but not if you adjust for inflation or look at the missed opportunity cost of say, investing that money in stocks. (I didn't store food in my basement as Ruff also advised.)
At the same time, I watched the Dow Jones go from 850 to 14,000, which according to Ruff, was supposed to fall. The U.S. economy was fine and grew through the 1980s and 1990s, contrary to Ruff's predictions. Ruff said gold would skyrocket, it fell like a stone. Ruff said we would have hyperinflation, we had rate stability and economic growth.
In other words, Ruff was 100% wrong during a 30 year period. For those who think that he's finally right, even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I have no expectation that the U.S. economy is going belly up as Ruff predicted.
Fool me once...
on June 12, 2008
either you get it or you don't. this book was first published in 1979. therefore, it is way ahead of any other financial book that was written during this same time period. the title would sound a little frisky, if it were written just today. however, it wasn't. there are many things that he talks about that people are only now starting to realize and discuss. things like gold, silver and food for survival. he talks about the impending banking crisis that would be about to unfold. these are all things that are coming into fruition now, and yet people still do not get it. the premanatory nature of this book shows just how brainwashed we still are with gas about to hit five and gold set to hit $1000 one more time and beyond. if people do not get it now. they will after this christmas. it will be one of the worst christmases ever.
on June 9, 2008
What a fun book to read! Mr. Ruff seems to be a very good and honest man and I enjoyed his book very much. If you believe the country and the world has no problems then this is not the book for you. If you believe we will have economic problems in the future and like me you don't have faith in our growing supply of paper money, then you will enjoy this book. I am a silver nut. I believe gold and silver are money, not paper. More important, I learned a few things from reading this book. I always admire men who can teach me something. I seek them out. Regards, Keith, Peachtree City, Ga.
on July 11, 2015
How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years, by Howard Ruff, is an illustration of how risky it is to predict the future, and to act as though the prediction is going to happen. The natural tendency is to assume that what is happening now will continue to happen, indeed that it may happen more.
How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years was published in 1979. Inflation rose to 13.3% that year. It was to rise to 14.4% the next year.
In 1979 people were afraid. Howard Ruff told them to be very afraid. He predicted an inflationary recession that would be worse than the deflationary recession of the 1930’s. He warned of violence, especially from “the poor, the uneducated, the economically dislocated, the lazy and the criminal,” who live in “the welfare ghettos.”
His advice was to move to a city with a population of less than 100,000, and to store a year’s supply of food.
But that was not all. He predicted that banks would fail, and that the value of stocks and bonds would crash. So what should you do with your money, assuming that you had prospered during the previous good years? (His advice was of little use for those who had struggled all of their lives, although he expressed concern that the government had done too much to help them.)
What you should do, assuming that you were prosperous to begin with, was to get your money out of banks, sell your stocks and bonds, and invest in gold, silver, and diamonds. These should be put in a strong box someplace, and you should hope that the criminals in the welfare ghettos do not find them.
Well the stock market did not crash. Indeed, it was poised to begin an ascent that lasted until the recession of 1991. Then it rose some more.
What about the price of gold? From 1970 to 1979 the price of gold per ounce rose from $36.02 to $306.00. In 1980 the price rose to $615.00. Then it began a gradual descent.
What happened to rich folks who took Ruff’s advice? They moved from glamorous cities to podunks, lost a lot of their wealth when the price of gold declined, and were stuck with a whole lot of food that spoiled before they had a chance to eat it.
Looking back on it, if in 1979 you had money to invest, and knew what was going to happen to the economy, you would have moved to San Francisco, bought a Victorian mansion, and fixed it up. Ten years, and certainly twenty years later, that would be worth many times what you invested in it. During the mean time you would have had a nice place to live. There is not much you can do with gold, silver, and diamonds but rub them and play with them. If you wear them very often you might be robbed by “the poor, the uneducated, the economically dislocated, the lazy and the criminal,” who live in “the welfare ghettos.”
Ruff’s response to that advice would have been, “Oh no, not San Francisco! There are too many of those kind of people in San Francisco.” Ruff considered homosexuality to be a threat to the family, even without gay marriage.
To the extent that Ruff explained the inflation of the second half of the 1970’s he blamed it on deficit spending by the government to fund welfare programs. He included Social Security and Medicare among welfare programs.
I do not remember what Ruff had to say about the much larger deficits of the Reagan administration. Because deficit spending during the 1980’s was devoted to increased military spending and to tax cuts for rich folks like Ruff, I suspect Ruff forgave those deficits.
Actually, the stagflation of the second half of the 1970’s were caused by increases in the price of petroleum that followed the OPEC Oil Embargo of 1973, and the Iranian Revolution of 1979. This was price fixing. When it became economically unattainable for Muslim oil producers, the price of petroleum declined, and the inflation rate did too.
Ruff did not mention the increase in the price of petroleum. Like other right wingers he did not want to admit that foreigners have considerable power over the U.S. economy, and that America’s dependence on automobile transportation is a national problem.
The most interesting chapter of this book is entitled “Sin-Tax.” In this Ruff argues that the sexual revolution has been responsible for increases in crime and welfare expense. Since Ruff wrote his book it has become increasingly obvious, and generally acknowledged, that there is a positive correlation between pre and extra marital sex and divorce and illegitimacy. It has also become clear that children raised by both biological parents living together in matrimony tend to do much better in life than children raised in other situations.
However, the sexual revolution has resulted in a decline in the birth rate. On the rear cover of his book Ruff poses proudly with eight of his nine children. If no one had sex outside of marriage, and if everyone had large numbers of children who reached adulthood and who had equally large families, the planet would become uninhabitable. That is a topic for other books.