Modern Cassandras?

They’re back. Those disciples of the dismal science, the neo-Malthusians, are knocking on our door. And they won’t go away.

Thomas Mathus was an 18th-century economist who predicted widespread starvation because food production can’t keep pace with population growth.  He was wrong then, and his disciples, who keep banging the same drum, are wrong now.

Because speculators have recently driven the prices of oil, gold, copper, zinc, and other resources to record levels, the “Limits to Growth” crowd predicts that wars, famines, and economic disasters will result. They needn’t worry. The input Malthus failed to consider was human intelligence. As prices rise, ingenious and enterprising people adapt to higher prices by developing substitutes or using the materials more effectively. There’s no reason to think that the current resource crunch is any different.

The neo-Malthusians are often called modern-day Cassandras because, like the Trojan princess, they are always predicting disaster. But the difference is this: Cassandra’s prophecies, although not followed, were accurate. The neo-Malthusians have yet to get one right.


Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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By | 2014-09-03T17:38:57+00:00 March 25th, 2008|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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