Juan de Arellano Basket of Flowers (c.1664); Museo del Prado, Madrid
"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: To know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire;
and to know what he ought to do."
--St. Thomas Aquinas
and to know what he ought to do."
--St. Thomas Aquinas
As seen in The Montecito Journal, Santa Barbara, my work involves the advisory and curation of private collections centered upon, but not limited to European Old Masters. This specialization includes Spanish and Italian Renaissance and Baroque works, driven by a passion for the emotional intensity, "beautiful violence" and mythologica-religious impact of these paintings. Other areas of interest include American19th and early 20th century works; Italian Modernism, and where possible, American and Russian Impressionism. At this time I do not have an independent gallery, but I work with established dealers of excellent reputation based in Manhattan, Vienna, Madrid and Paris to tailor small, exquisite collections. These consist of known and 'unknown' great names in the history of art, with a focus on undervalued artists whose works, according to the temper of the times and the reading of the tea leaves, etc. stand to appreciate in value.
- As a former writer-analyst of the commodities market, the historical gold standard and of the 'bankers' bank' traditions of pre-war Europe for two well-known American publications, I stress the critical, long-term value of art as investment as a secondary factor to the primary goal of creating a powerful aesthetic experience.
- I began in this field as a result of my work for and personal relationship with the Princely House of Liechtenstein, one of Europe's most fabled art collectors, when I lived many years in Vienna. In addition, I have a small in-house press, William Caxton & Sons Publishing LLC, based in Washington DC, through which I publish a new print journal, Christoff's Old Masters, monographs and my own literary works.
HARD-ASSETS MATTER: LATEST MACROECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS
Updates on the ongoing destruction of free market capitalism, the rampaging U.S. national debt and the faux-money frenzy of the Federal Reserve
“We have gold because we cannot trust governments”
― Herbert Hoover
Big Picture: The Congressional Budget Office said that the publicly held federal debt will equal or exceed the size of the U.S. economy in the fiscal year beginning on October 1st.--Barron's week of September 7, 2020
Big Picture: U.S. companies have added record debt since the financial crisis. The ratio of corporate debt to GDP is 47% --an all time high. --Barron's week of June 22, 2020
Analysis: "Manic Market Behavior", Barron's , week of September 7, citing Alan M Newman's Stock Market Crosscurrents (cross-currents.net), August 31: "Negative market divergences ae popping up everywhere we look. By themselves they cannot be relied upon as signals of a reversal--they are only warnings but, as we see today, very strong warnings. Given the enormous price explosion we would expect NYSE advancing issues as a percentage of total issues traded to be at a much higher level. At 51% we are not impressed in the slightest. Our interpretation is that the rally has run out of steam. On Nasdaq the picture appears even worse. Our indicator stands at 49.1%. Despite a more than 16% price increase over the past 50 trading sessions, the indicator is below 50%.. Amazing! Then again, why should we be surprised? This pha se is allabout the giant momentum issues, which we suppose will include the heavily shorted Tesla (TSLA), up 76% in only 14 trading sessions....This kind of manic behavior is typically punished in the most severe way, somewhat like the huge one-month decline earlier this year but worse--far worse."
Big Picture: During the 2016 presidential campaign Donald Trump promised to eliminate the national debt within eight years. The current fiscal year deficit is projected to total a record $3.3 trillion, the result of the record contraction in the U.S. owing to the effects of the coronavirus and the massive federal spending to counter it. "As in wartime, governments need to spend freely in times of crisis. It should be recalled however that the federal deficit was running a $1trillion annual rate--nearly 5% of gross domestic product--before the virus hit. Ah, but this doesn't matter, chime in the 'analysts' who maintain that the debt has "room to grow", in the words of Capital Alpha Partners in Washington DC. This is based on CBO (Congressional Budget Office) projections that see the annual deficit remaining above $1 trillion annually through fiscal year 2030. Concerns about the magnitude of the debt miss the critical factor, and that is the interest on the debt. "Ultra low interest rates sugest there is more capacity for the federal government to borrow", Capital Alpha writes in a client note.
Stupid is as Stupid thinks: "Modern Monetary Theory" (MMT) the au courant fiscal school of thought on the Left maintains that a country that borrows in its own currency can't default because the central bank can always print more money to cover it. And with interest rates so low there should be no impediment to borrowing for needed purposes. MMT advocates miss the point of why interest rates are so low, according to David Rosenberg of Rosenberg Research. Instead of being inflationary, the debt overhang is a massive deflationary cost. "It seems lost on a whole lost of people that principal does have to be repaid. And low, indeed negative real interest rates are predicting a future of economic stagnation. It isn't just the size of the debt but what it is used for. The current deficits provide income for displaced workers "as a means to preserve social stability". But this does nothing to preserve the economy's productive capacity. "The same holds true past private-public sector debt expansions including the mortgage boom and bust of 2002-2007 and the 2010-19 stock-buyback boom", Rosenberg notes. ---Barron's
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NOTES FROM THE POLO LOUNGE: LATEST ESSAYS
On the Necessity of Elitism in the Fine Arts
Marcia A. Christoff August-September 2020
Near the end of life, a man or woman might ask themselves what destiny would have had in store for them if at some critical juncture in their maturity he or she had heeded the wisdom of a cautionary friend or a far-sighted foe. Today, what was once called ‘high art”, or the more safely neutral “fine art”, is confronted with the same question. It is on the defensive everywhere in the Western world. Although recent record sales at Old Masters auctions and a steady increase in attendance at the major museums prior to the coronavirus pandemic suggest an encouraging longing for the lofty, the position is deceptive. The institutional status of high art survives tenuously under a veneer of tradition; it is almost absent in education and broader media; its influence marginalized to that of a well-educated cult. The implied reason for this is that so-called elitist art has no place in an increasingly egalitarian society.
If, however, the natural hierarchies of art that are to be enjoyed in any free society are eradicated, there will disappear with them one of the most powerful expressions of the principle of equality in that society: popular access to and education through aesthetic excellence. Such is the fate of the cultural life of this country if vigilance is not practiced by those who defend Western high art and resistance is not directed towards those whose long-term agenda is to discredit and even destroy it.... Please click here for more
"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it,
can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do"
--Galileo Galilei (d.1642)