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Why do you believe this is a particularly uncertain time for investors in the United States and around the world?

Jeff Christian
January 12, 2017
Video Transcript

Jeff Christian: We think that the level of uncertainty facing the world, and the United States, and individuals in the United States, and then across the world are greater now than they have been any time since the Depression. I've been, sort of, revisiting the election of F.D.R. in 1932 and then the Presidential election in 1936 and they give very interesting things. There were a lot of people who were assuming that when Roosevelt was sworn into office, which was on March 4, that's when the inauguration day was, up until 1932, that he would impose dictatorial powers. William Randolf Hearst even encouraged him to do that. There's a very famous quote from a high-level General who said, "We would have had a dictatorship, but for the fact that Roosevelt didn't want to be the dictator. He wanted to make democracy work." When Roosevelt won, I think it was a very telling story. When Roosevelt won, the inaugural committee advised him not to have a parade from the Capitol to where he was sworn in at the White House. They thought it was too dangerous. Very interesting parallel to what was going on here in the United States in January. He insisted and in fact they had a very large parade. The army lined the street with machine gunners and snipers.

They were so afraid. In fact, in February of 1933, someone had tried to assassinate F.D.R. even before he was sworn into office. So, that's how divided the world was. Now, we all have heard that when Roosevelt got to the White House he closed the banks and that is true, but... half of the states had already closed the banks in their states by the time he was sworn in. So, his closing the banks was sort of a de facto recognition of reality. That's how divided the world was when he was sworn in and he gave his famous, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." He kept the banks closed for about six days and when he re-opened them the banks were swamped with enormous lines of people seeking to re-deposit the money they had pulled from the banks because they were worried about bank failure prior to his election. He also had said during the election that he would call in the gold. He ultimately issued an executive order saying to turn in your gold, in early April. Of the 44 million ounces or so of gold that was turned in, 40 million of it was turned in before he issued the executive order. People knew what was happening. They knew what was coming and there was a political will to make the country stronger and allow it to recover. People voluntarily turned in about 40 million ounces of gold before the executive order was issued. So, that was the turnover from inauguration day to six days later. So, when we talk about what's happening in the United States, that's a very interesting corollary. We have to wait and see.

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