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Part I of this book should be required reading to graduate high school. If everyone read and understood this, the world would be much more prosperous and we would all lead richer and fuller lives. Part I is a primer on the economy, the history of money, the federal reserve, and how our government reaches deeper and deeper into our pockets with every passing year.
The remainder of the book goes into what we can do about it - how we can hope to hold on to what we have worked so hard to accumulate. This part is interesting, informative and useful. But Part I is an outstanding education on the way money works, or should work, and how inflation serves to devalue money at the hands of the federal government we elect and trust (to our financial demise). It also reveals how traditional assets (stocks bonds, etc) fail to preserve value over any extended period of time.
The "Alpha" strategy is the "first" line of defense we have against the hand of big brother. The logical extreme of this strategy would be to buy everything we need to live on for the rest of our lives in today's dollars and stockpile it all. Since not everything has a sufficient shelf life, the book offers the best compromise. This strategy may seem possibly a bit extreme but it is interesting and thought provoking none-the-less. Still, the idea is to try to stockpile the things of value, the tangible assets, in order to best preserve against the ravages of inflation resulting from the blatant and unbridled printing of money by the federal government. A must read.
The message of this book (what Pugsley calls "The Alpha Strategy"), put simply, is to avoid holding assets in the form of non-redeemable paper money. The work begins with an explanation of why this is necessary, and then moves on to accomplishing it.
First, Pugsley explains basic economics, starting with the premise that individuals work in order to improve their standard of living. With clear examples, he explains the danger of inflation (calling it "the most deadly of economic evils") and the roles that fractional-reserve banking and the Federal Reserve play in our economy.
Pugsley also argues that all government intervention into the economy causes capital to be misallocated and productivity to drop. He condemns all of it--anti-trust laws, professional licenses, subsidies, minimum wage laws, tariffs, and labor laws--but doesn't blame the government. He points out that such laws are passed because small groups of vocal constituents act in their own short-term best interest and lobby for government intervention to protect themselves from competition in the free market. The result, according to Pugsley, is that everyone else is "plundered," because they are forced by the government to pay higher prices than they otherwise would.
Arguing that conventional methods of storing wealth (stocks, bonds, etc.) simply result in more losses due to taxes, inflation, and speculation, Pugsley moves on to the subject of protecting oneself from the forces that diminish wealth. He recommends that you move your paper money into four categories of products, in the following order: education, tools, consumable products, and raw materials.
Pugsley briefly touches on education, arguing that a career makes one more productive and therefore wealthier in the long run.Read more ›
The Alpha Strategy is, without a doubt, the best explanation of the Federal Reserve System and the perils of fractional-reserve banking ever put on paper. This accounts for the first 50 pages of the book; the next 70 serve as a great primer on free-market economics in general. Doug Casey (of LewRockwell.com) is quoted on the back of the book calling author John Pugsley maybe "the greatest living free-market writer" -- keep in mind, this is when Murray Rothbard was still alive! And based on the skill with which Pugsley explains supposedly "difficult" concepts, I'm inclined to agree with Casey's assessment. I only wonder why Pugsley didn't go on to write more books.
The second half of The Alpha Strategy might be the reason: like Ron Paul in Gold, Peace, and Prosperity and Gary North in How You Can Profit From the Coming Price Controls, Pugsley ended up being wrong with his dire economic predictions for the 1980s. This is understandable: no one could have possibly foreseen Paul Volcker's tight monetary policy. However, all of the same factors that led Pugsley, Paul, and North to project the implosion of the dollar and U.S. economy in 1980 are present once again, only this time, we have a much larger debt, much bigger entitlement deficits, currency competition in the form of the euro, industrial competition from China, overextended military, much greater debasement of our currency, and a president and Federal Reserve Chairman who absolutely WILL NOT do what Volcker did. Thus, The Alpha Strategy is even more timely reading today than when it was written.Read more ›