"My mommy always said there were no monsters - no real ones - but there are." "Yes, there are, aren't there ?"
“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Once upon a time, there was a magical land called Erewhon.
Erewhon had once been a pleasant, peaceful and prosperous land, but years of unnecessary, expensive wars with its foreign neighbours and decades of economic mismanagement had ended up taking their toll on state finances.
Reading the runes, two of Erewhon’s largest bankers, Baron Redshield and Baron Darkstone, set off to pay a visit to the country’s elderly and ailing king, who had a young son with a debilitating mead problem, and they bore with them a cunning plan..
The next day, Erewhon’s town criers walked through the country’s capital loudly proclaiming an ominous warning. “The plague is coming ! The plague is coming !”
Minstrels and balladeers sang of distant foreigners dropping dead in the streets, and of other plague-ridden wretches being captured by their authorities in giant butterfly nets.
A frightened people demanded action. Erewhon’s government snapped into action. Everybody would be kept at home until the plague had passed. Erewhon’s artisans were forced to shut up shop. Churches, theatres, public places, parks and taverns were all closed, until further notice. The schools, too, were shut. Schoolchildren were sent home, and told to wear underpants on their faces. All small businesses were forcibly closed. The Sheriff of Erewhon even cancelled Christmas. But Erewhon Prime, which offered home delivery services, and McErewhon, which marketed grilled meat patties of dubious provenance, were both mysteriously allowed to operate as normal. It all seemed very odd.
Happily, Erewhon’s apothecaries soon rushed out a magic potion, which enabled those who imbibed it to visit their local tavern once again, provided they consumed a large Scotch egg while they were there, and wore underpants on their face whilst standing. The magic potion – aggressively promoted by all of the country’s doctors – made Erewhon’s apothecaries, and most of Erewhon’s doctors, extravagantly rich. But most of the people of Erewhon got poorer. It later transpired that Barons Redshield and Darkstone had acquired Erewhon’s abandoned small businesses and homesteads for pennies on the dollar.
Erewhon’s government wasn’t completely deaf to the needs of its people, who were still imprisoned in their own homes, unable to work or earn money or meet up with friends or family. Passers-by noticed that the lights in the offices of the state money printer were ablaze all day and night. The constant rumbling of Erewhon’s great money printer caused the very bricks of the state Treasury building to start to shift, and crumble. Some of Erewhon’s savvier citizenry began to quietly accumulate gold, and silver.
Not everyone went along with the home imprisonment impositions, or believed the official narrative concerning the dangers of the plague. Those who opposed the restrictions or questioned the increasingly erratic pronouncements of Erewhon’s Surgeon-General were either sent into exile, or thrown in the castle moat.
Eventually, the benighted and beleaguered people of Erewhon had had enough. Their last straw had been learning that Erewhon’s Surgeon-General had used their own taxes to create both the plague and the magic potion. But the damage had already been done. By this stage, the coins of the realm had become worthless. Starving and bankrupt, the people of Erewhon stormed the castle. Baron Redshield and Baron Darkstone and the ailing king himself rushed up to the battlements to evade the increasingly desperate and angry mob..
Sadly, that is all we have of the Saga of Erewhon. The last chapter of the tale has been lost to posterity. How does it end ? Readers will simply have to use their own imagination.
As you may know, we also manage bespoke investment portfolios for private clients internationally. We would be delighted to help you, too. Because of the current heightened market volatility we are offering a completely free financial review, with no strings attached, to see if our value-oriented approach might benefit your portfolio -with no obligation at all:
Tim Price is co-manager of the VT Price Value Portfolio and author of ‘Investing through the Looking Glass: a rational guide to irrational financial markets’. You can access a full archive of these weekly investment commentaries here. You can listen to our regular ‘State of the Markets’ podcasts, with Paul Rodriguez of ThinkTrading.com, here. Email us: email@example.com
Price Value Partners manage investment portfolios for private clients. We also manage the VT Price Value Portfolio, an unconstrained global fund investing in Benjamin Graham-style value stocks and specialist managed funds.
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