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.

Posted On: 2022-01-31 20:12
User Name: warpstar1

So the only way to save democracy is to have Democrats in charge of congress in perpetuity? I'm afraid that would not be democracy.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions