One of the most important themes over recent years has been the presence of negative real interest rates in the developed world. Whether one likes it or not, it has a big impact on how institutional money is allocated. Professional investors, who are under constant pressure from clients to make money, feel compelled to chase market momentum, especially when their clients’ money is slowly withering away because of negative real rates of interest. As Jeremy Grantham puts it:

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Addogram.com have come up with a large graphic (an “addogram”) about the evolution of central banking in England and America going as far back as 1640. If you take a look at the zoomable image (click “Explore this addogram in high-resolution” once at the link above) you can see how UK & US central banks affected (and were affected by) equity, bond and gold prices since 1840. Present dynamics in central bank balance sheets and long & short-term yields looks eerily similar to 1930-1950. Interesting stuff.

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Sometimes it seems like the investment community operates on the assumption that the world started in 1929 – or at least that the financial booms, busts and speculators preceding the 1920s are irrelevant to the modern investor. We think this is misguided. Just consider that this common worldview ignores an age where speculators lived in sprawling mansions on Fifth Avenue (as opposed to apartments in the same place measuring about 1/100th the size)! We imagine that there’s a lot to learn from looking at the past 300 years as opposed to the past 80. With this in mind; here we present what we believe to be the best trades of all time:

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