Wall Street Apocalypse: Doomsday Investor Recommends Farmland Retreat For When The Hammer Finally Drops

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
By Paul Martin

Wall Street Apocalypse: The World of the Doomsday Investors


Predictions of the end of civilization are nothing new, but the direst prognosticators have, traditionally, existed on the fringes of society, where their dark visions can be comfortably attributed to an excess of libertarianism or a shortage of Prozac.

In the last few years, however, something strange has happened. While there is no lack of survivalists stockpiling cat food and rifles, some of the direst thinkers are now working on Wall Street, where a combination of fear and foresight has many of the country’s money men contemplating their escape routes.

Patron Saint of Dire Predictions

The patron saint of the Wall Street apocalypse society may be Barton Biggs. The leader of Traxis Partners, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, Biggs has gained a reputation for his dire predictions, particularly those of his much-quoted 2008 analysis of World War II, Wealth, War and Wisdom. At the end of the book, Biggs offers his conclusions from his brief study of history, suggesting the likelihood of a future era in which “People with wealth” will face “another time of cholera when the Four Horsemen will ride again and the barbarians unexpectedly will be at their gate.”

Biggs offers some interesting advice for hedging the apocalypse. In addition to prescribing a highly diversified portfolio heavily invested in equity instruments, Biggs also advises that his readers buy farms to which they can retreat when the hammer drops. The hedgie touts the joys of the natural life, noting that “landowners seem to find considerable psychic satisfaction just from the knowledge of possession. There are few things as fulfilling as having drink [sic] in the sunset and looking at your fields and cows.”

This bucolic perspective seems to owe more to Little House on the Prairie than to any actual experience on Biggs’s part. Although the author briefly worked as a schoolteacher and a semiprofessional soccer player, his New York-Yale-Wall Street career track doesn’t seem to have left much time for tilling fields and milking cows.

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