Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2022 Issue

Living Dangerously in the Year Ahead


The future is up in the air

While I’m managing Partner of Rare Book Hub, the other hat I wear is as a private money manager, building and diversifying our family assets.  I’ve had a good record, year over year my number has run at and above 30%.  For 2021, our traded assets increased in value by 46.4%.  I’m writing about this as I’ve been a keen and effective observer for the past 30 years and am expecting the net change this year to be +7%, a much smaller increase than we’ve seen in the past 5 years.  Irrational exuberance doesn’t last.


Stock market investors have been having a free ride while the Federal Reserve [the Fed] has kept interest rates unnaturally low and the outcome of such a policy eventually creates inflation.  The financial system is rigged to hide it, suggesting low comforting rates that encourage the stock market higher.  But increasingly inflation can no longer be hidden by happy talk.  Whether you are buying a quart of milk, a gallon of gas, a new or used car, or a professional baseball or football ticket you’re experiencing solid 20% inflation and it’s going to go on and on.


So the Fed, now accepting they can no longer hide inflation, call it temporary.  And there is another explanation; it’s baloney.  Inflation like sex, is very hard to stamp out.


Between January 1st and December 31st inflation will set the table.  Unfortunately, there will also be the proverbial drunk at the table, the open Republican efforts to suppress and marginalize Democratic voters in the November election, their purpose to take control of the House and Senate after which American democracy will end.


Cutting to the chase, while inflation was been the high risk for the Fed and while they have done exceptionally well managing it, costs are starting to run away as the Trump-Putin partnership openly subverts American democracy with the stated intent to elect Trump white nationalists.


America’s strength has long been its enduring capacity to accept human differences.  Skills and ability, poverty, disability, race, religion, and sexual orientation have long been excuses to exclude.  In America we must stand for equal human possibility.


But even as we are close to losing democracy it’s not clear Americans care enough to fight to keep it, perhaps thinking it’s not their fight.  What are they in the sea of huge money, social media and local pressure?  What are we?  We are Americans, the last best hope of the world.  If we fail, democracy fails for the world.


One way or the other, investing in America in 2022 is going to be difficult.  Prosperous and free economies are dependent on democratic societies.  Take away democracy you’ll have Russian “prosperity.”


It’s going to be a tough year.

Posted On: 2022-01-01 04:27
User Name: lthing

Thank you, Bruce! "The last, best hope of the world..." I just came from watching "Hamilton" for the first time if we want another reminder that we are all of us always a part of history whether we want to be or not.

- Lowell Thing

Posted On: 2022-01-01 07:18
User Name: psps

No, Bruce McKinney. You Americans are not the last, best hope of the world. You are a deeply dysfunctional people and an example to nobody. Nothing will change for the better in your country until you stop thinking of yourselves as exceptional, take a long hard look in the mirror and start to do something about it. Sorry! I wish it were otherwise. We Europeans would like America to be a force for good. But you aren't. Get used to it!

Posted On: 2022-01-01 13:43
User Name: sumthinu

Unfortunately, a quite unsettling observation of our situation. I have friends that still say Trump could not have lost because he received more votes than any sitting president. Also unfortunate is that the same friends won’t use the same logic with the number of votes the democratic candidate received. A selfish disdain for democracy while waving the American flag and seeking out others to demonize. Wish us luck !

Posted On: 2022-01-01 16:27
User Name: arnet1

“We are Americans, the last best hope of the world.  If we fail, democracy fails for the world.”
mmmm....hubris or disconnect?
The answer is both and lies in the appeals I now receive to sponsor American children living in conditions that differ little from those in the third world, while its most privileged defenders of democracy, like the hub writer, boast of securing year after year 30 percent increases in the family wealth. Can a democracy that does not work for all be a democracy?
It seems to me that the United States lost its way a long time ago.

Posted On: 2022-01-01 23:41
User Name: charlesrobinson127

I fear younhave it right

Posted On: 2022-01-02 00:11
User Name: bukowski

“psps” is a Kremlin troll. Delete his provocative false post.

Posted On: 2022-01-02 20:06
User Name: avocado1


I wonder what the powers that be think is going to happen with inflation, seeing as how M1 has grown five fold over the last couple of years? M1 is what he bottom 90% own.



Posted On: 2022-01-04 04:54
User Name: ezrabook

Thank you so much, Bruce. America as envisioned, realized, perpetuated and long mythologized, is now set on a course of dissolution, and dis-integration -- but historically speaking, this whole scenario might merely be an entirely "organic" move of a great ideal's need to cleanse itself of its own big lies, of which the "stolen" election is but the latest. Pioneers in pointy hats seeking a new land come and conquer the wilderness in the name of "freedom"after wiping out or "relocating" the Native populace, and constructing a magnificent democratic ideal, upon the backs of enslaved Black humans. So the whole shakedown begins, and of necessity, kicking and screaming and doomsaying as we are, our body politic is urged by circumstance, to voluntarily shake down its own assumptions, public and private, to the very roots of our country, community, family and self. Mere band-aid restorations of business as usual will not suffice. We're in deep. Now, at this point, only mass acknowledgement, apologies deep and sincere, and reparations, will open the doors to re-visioning.

"Got a new agenda
With a new dream
I'm kicking out the old regime
Liberation, elevation, education
America, you a lie
But the whole world 'bout to testify
I said, the whole world 'bout to testify
And the tables 'bout to
T-t-tables 'bout to
Turn, turn, turn"
(Janelle Monae in "Turn Table")

As I see it, as a country, it almost seems our devolved version of "The American Dream" HAS to come to the edge, in order for us to individually and collectively remember the core values which inspired and sparked this democratic experiment. With greed and denial as the bottom line justifications for so much insensitivity, extraction-consciousness, ignorance, and myth-gorging, our dear sweet and high-principled country, unique in so many ways, is destined to unwind and unravel before enough people realize what has been lost. So sorry, I'm usually so bushy-tailed, smiling and parade-waving in a universe of hope and good will from, of, and to all men and women. But the great cleanout has begun. Do we have the courage to stand to, and remember, and speak up, at very least to vote and actively protect the rights of others to vote?

Posted On: 2022-01-07 02:48
User Name: brixton1977

This is a truly bizarre post. Skyrocketing inequality is tearing America apart. And here Bruce is, boasting of decades of 30% returns and wondering, why oh why, the country is teetering toward fascism.

Posted On: 2022-01-08 00:52
User Name: bozo1950

I think we’ve spoken on the phone; you were always generous with your time. When I began reading your post I had a gnawing fear it would turn out to be pro-Trump. I’m so so relieved it was anything but - and you’ve put it all very well. On the other hand, I’m a bit in agreement with “psps” below. I wish America were a force for good in the world but that’s been an iffy proposition for a rather long while.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>February 26, 2022</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> ALLEN, Ethan. <i>A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity from the Time of his Being Taken by the British, near Montreal…,</i> Rare second edition, 1779. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain"). <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.</i> New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> LANE, Edward William, translator. <i>Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.</i> London, 1838–1841. 32 parts in 33. $7,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> GRANT, James, Lieut. <i>The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery, performed in His Majesty's Vessel The Lady Nelson...</i> London, 1803. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Civil War Archive, including Hospital CDVs. $2,400 to $2,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> W.B. Gosnell's Civil War Era 34 Star Flag w/ Book on Western Expansion. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> 15 Star Parade Flag and Envelope, Framed. $800 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Partial Civil War Album, incl. Confederate Leaders. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> CDV Album incl. Garfield, plus Framed CSA Currency. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Two Geronimo Cabinet Cards, incl. St. Louis World's Fair Signed. $2,800 to $3,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Dickens, Charles. <i>A Christmas Carol,</i> 1st Ed. 1843. $1,800 to $2,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Archive of Col. John Fite, CSA, POW Johnson's Island, first of two lots, 8 Items. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Kentucky Confederate Call to Arms Broadside, 1862. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. <i>For Whom the Bell Tolls,</i> 1st Ed. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Autograph Album with Confederate Signatures, incl. Jeff Davis. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> WWI Navy Posters plus Photo of USS John Hood, 3 pcs. $700 to $750.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana<br>Online<br>Now through January 25, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> (Flag) — Commemorative Thirteen-Star Flag. Pre-Civil War, Thirteen-Star Flag of the United States, from the collection of Charles Kuralt. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Fitzgerald, F. Scott. <i>Tender is the Night</i>. First edition, presentation copy, and a former mystery. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Salinger, J.D. <i>The Catcher in the Rye.</i> A strikingly fresh first edition of Salinger's essential novel. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Whitman, Walt. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> “America's second Declaration of Independence” — signed by Whitman. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> [Dylan, Bob]. Some of the earliest known professional portraits. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Y-Worth [Yarworth], William. <i>Cerevisiarii Comes: Or, the New and True Art of Brewing…</i> A rare and early English work on the art of brewing. $5,000 to $7,000.

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