By Michael H. Brown
[From the archives: 2008]
DEVOUT MONEY MANAGER WARNS OF FUTURE IN STARK TERMS AND OFFERS A ‘SAFE HAVEN’
It was years ago, in 1999, that a devout Catholic investment expert began telling his clients — for whom he managed $100 million in equities — to start getting out of stocks: that there would be a long-term downturn like the 1920s and 1930s.
Researching historic cycles, Peter Bruno (a multi-millionaire himself), who owns Wall Street Money Management Group in Boca Raton, Florida, saw the market topping soon — and then plummeting.
One reason: like the 1920s, there was a boom in technology stocks (back then it was radio, agricultural inventions, canned food, household appliances, and automobiles), and like the time period, it was going to go bust, he feared — which it did.
After peaking in March of 2000, technology stocks (now based on computers and the internet, as represented by NASDAQ) dove 78 percent over the next two and a half years (from a high of 5,000 to 1,775 yesterday).
That, said Bruno, was similar to the stock market crash in 1929 — it’s just that it took two years to play out, as opposed to a couple of weeks, as it did during the notorious crash.
“Since then there has been no ‘up year’ in the market,” asserts Bruno, who originally hails from the New York area. “It is similar to the beginnings of the Depression, when you had eight or nine years of a deflationary period — where money is not available and home prices go down. The cycles are exactly the same.”
We don’t get into much in the way of financial reporting, and ourselves don’t invest, but we thought Peter would be the one to call seeking advise for those who do have investments.
His basic suggestion: pray. Trust. Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Yes, get out of stocks. Invest in U.S. Treasury Bonds. Don’t put too much in gold (which, he says, will not perform well in a period of deflation that we may be entering).
Pay off debts — especially mortgages (the first thing, he says, is to “make sure you have a roof over your head”), and of course pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit (since everyone’s financial circumstance is different).
Dedicate your day to God and He will take care of you.
That’s Peter’s key formula. In his opinion (and we offer this for your discernment), we face a depression. He has been speaking about this publicly for several years. People are beginning, of course, to pay increased attention.
Bruno, who also has a popular financial radio show that airs over four stations (and once sponsored a show based on Spirit Daily), notes that the Dow topped in 1999 at 11,000, fell sharply, then bolted to a peak of 14,000 before the current decline.
“That looks good on paper, but in real terms, you have to consider that what masked the decline in the Dow is that it is based on U.S. dollars, and the dollar fell from 100 to 70,” he says — detracting from the paper value by thirty percent.
Bruno says that if the Dow were based on gold — which is the only true currency — these past several years it would more have resembled the Japanese stock market, known as the Nikkei, which has experienced famous downturns for more than two decades.
The Boca Raton man — who often rails against abortion during his show, and even plays homilies given by the local priest at the end of his financial advice (and has long been a faithful follower of this website) — said that since getting out of stocks he has shepherded his clients into what he calls “nest egg capital preservation,” based on those relatively safe Treasury Bonds.
By moving money in and out of those government securities about three times a year, he says he has been able to guarantee security and an average return of ten percent a year. When interest rates go down, buy Treasuries, he says.
We say all this because of his advice: Cut your risks. Look for secure places to park your money (if you have money to invest).
In stark terms, Peter, who compares his “cycle analysis” to meteorology (basing the movement of stocks on historic patterns, as weathermen predict hurricanes), believes we face a period as severe as the late 1920s and 1930s — a cleansing. It “hasn’t really begun yet,” he says.
As much as a cycle, he sees it as part of a “chastisement.”
There was the tech bubble, then the real estate bubble; was there also a total economic bubble, with most everyone living beyond normal means, one that now what is bursting? Others, including the candidates for president, as well as the President, disagree, assuring Americans that a bottom will soon be reached and matters will improve, with the country facing at worst a recession.
For many, says the prominent financial expert, the days are coming when people will see a significant change in lifestyle, with no more eating out several times a week. He believes families will have to pull together; many adult children will move back with their parents; and there will be shortages. He warns that unlike other lean periods — when children sought help from their parents — this time parents may need help from children who are themselves saddled with mortgages.
Current troubles are the “tip of the iceberg,” asserts Bruno, and “there’s nothing the government is going to be able to do. The bailout is a joke. It takes care of the good old boys’ interests. It’s exactly what was done in the 1930s and also what Japan did when it was buying mortgages and supporting banks. Real estate is going to continue to go down. I don’t think there’s any way of plugging it. You want to help people out there.”
And that, says Bruno, means using such strong language, which he believes constitutes a “clarion call that many will lose money in the stock market.” He calls this approach “saving people from the highway of broken dreams.”
The critical point in stocks: when they went below 10,700, he says. That threshold has to hold or big drops follow, he theorizes. The market has been “complacent, he says; people are still putting money in it. There are “false rallies.”
Up to now, prices have approached that watershed mark but bounced back. Now, prices have sliced through the “barrier” and may be headed for 7,400 as a “minimum downside market,” he believes. There will be a shortage of cash.
“I don’t know if that’s going to take two or three weeks or two or three years,” he emphasizes.
He made similar predictions years ago that the NASDAQ barrier was 2,600 — and that once below that, it would fall 600 to 800 points (which it has, and now then some). He advises reviewing the movie Cinderella Man.
We aren’t used to all these numbers. We do not play any markets. We don’t even pretend to understand them.
But then, in totality, who does? Again, we submit it for discernment. We’re more used to comparisons. And if we need one, the Roaring Twenties were a decade during which America became the richest nation on earth and a culture of consumerism was born. There was the Scopes trial over Darwinism. There was jazz, which led to blues, which later led to rock. There were women liberated from housework by new appliances. Real estate was hot, especially in Florida. Radio and movies (like computers today) became the rage. It seemed as though Dow Jones Industrial Stock Index would never quit increasing. Stock speculation went sky high in the bull market of 1928-1929. That ended on October 24 of the latter year. The Great Depression followed.
[Bruno said that in the coming  presidential election, one should vote for the person one does not like, “because he’s going to be the next Herbert Hoover.”]
“If you take it all and put it in terms of chastisement, how is the Lord going to continue to bless us when what we have given Him back is abortion?” asks the money manager. “It doesn’t look like it’s getting any better. That bull on Wall Street is like the golden calf, and you turn on television and there are all these things so bad that you have to cover the eyes of your children. I believe this goes hand in glove with purification: hit them in their wallets.”
Hit them there, and they often fall where they belong: on their knees. Of course, a financial purification may be a only part of coming change, although a significant one; many matters are in play.
The prevention is getting on the knees to start with — thanking God, and asking His financial advice (and not being obsessed with money, which as the Pope said is “built on sand”).
God will guide you if you ask Him. Work hard. Offer it to Him. He is the only safe haven.
If He feeds and clothes the birds, how much more concern has He for you?
In the end, that’s the truly valid advice.
That’s Peter’s formula (along with the astute financial observations). Each day, says Bruno, he prays to offer up his day as a prayer and in remuneration for sins in union with the heavenly court — which, he says, keeps him on a “straight line.”
He prays that the Lord send people to him who may need help (people are getting “more frightened,” he says), and awakens at three a.m. most days to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Increase your faith every day and you’ll be ready. There will be “ups.” There will be “downs.” Maybe today up; what about next week?
Pray, hope, and don’t worry; it was Padre Pio who said that.
[see also: Blog: is Dow Index new golden idol?, Pope: we see how money becomes nothing, After bailout AIG sent executives to spa, Chastisement: Schwarzenegger seeks emergency funds, Iceland teeters on bankruptcy, Britain’s shock rate cut, Five must-knows about CDs, Credit cards tightening, Western banking system faces collapse, and The ‘pornification’ of a generation]