The world's economy is in tatters and safe havens are few and far between, says legendary contrarian Marc Faber. The banking crisis in Cyprus has shown that even bank deposits are not safe. The publisher of the Doom, Boom and Gloom newsletter, surveying the world from his perch in Hong Kong, discusses the impact of unemployment in Europe, the economic slowdown in China, asset bubbles and the turnaround prospects for precious metals miners. Faber also reveals his investment strategy for these volatile times in this interview with The Gold Report. The Gold Report: Marc, I recently interviewed James Turk who said that Europe is in a banking crisis, but that some countries are in worse shape than others. Are things on the continent as bad as they seem to be from the headlines in the U.S.?
Marc Faber: Unemployment is high in both Europe and the U.S., particularly for young people. One reason for the high unemployment rate is that it is very difficult to find highly specialized workers for industry. Perhaps that's due to more university students studying non-user-friendly subjects, such as philosophy. The Western world is lacking in well-trained workers who can handle industrial machines that cost $10–20 million ($10–20M). But if I need a clerical assistant for financial services, I can find hundreds and hundreds of applicants.
Swiss-born Marc Faber, who at age 24 earned his Ph.D. in economics magna * laude from the University of Zurich, has lived in Hong Kong nearly 40 years. He worked in New York, Zurich and Hong Kong for White Weld & Co., an investment bank historically managed by Boston Brahmins until its sale to Merrill Lynch in 1978. From 1978 to 1990, Faber served as managing director of Drexel Burnham Lambert (HK), setting up his own investment advisory and fund management firm, Marc Faber Ltd. in mid-1990. His widely read monthly investment newsletter Gloom Boom & Doom Report highlights unusual investment opportunities. Faber is also the author of several books, including Tomorrow's Gold: Asia's Age of Discovery (2002), which spent several weeks on Amazon's bestseller list and is being translated into Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai and German. He also contributes regularly to leading financial publications around the world. Much also has been written about Faber. Nury Vittachi, one of Asia's most popular writers and speakers, published Riding the Millennial Storm: Marc Faber's Path to Profit in the Financial Markets (1998). The Financial Times of London described him as "something of an icon" and Fortune called him a "congenital contrarian and shrewd Swiss investment advisor."