Forget about predicting what will happen in a stock market downturn. Short-seller Chris Irons, founder of Quoth the Raven Research, said it's time to consider shorting the whole American economic and free market system. For Irons, gold is the best bet for long-term.
"If you don't want to take it from me, take it from the central government," Irons said at a Kase Learning short-selling event in New York on Thursday, May 3.
Irons explained that the central government keeps significant reserves of gold as a backup plan in the event of a total economic collapse. The fallback isn't in sovereign wealth or currency, but in the yellow metal.
"I have a lot of gold, just in case the whole thing goes ass-up," Irons said emphatically.
Irons explained that he doesn't keep all of his wealth in gold, but he does keep a decent amount - just as the central government does. He admitted to maintaining a "Buffett style" portfolio of stock investments, but noted that the dividends investors such as Warren Buffett preach won't be enough to keep anyone on their feet in the event of a total system breakdown.
"F**k the dividend," Irons said. "The last thing you're going to be worrying about is the dividend when we have a global financial crisis."
Irons explained further that the stock market as even the dividend-focused investing legends see it isn't even really a market by definition. The notion that stocks will always go higher over time is useless, Irons argued.
"You call this a stock market. It's not a market ... a free market would be if stocks went up and went back down," Irons said. "What they don't realize is that when you zoom out, the bull market ... is a very small portion of time."
The market has moved in a generally higher direction over the last century not based on value, but based on manipulation from Federal Reserve and central government.
Because of that, it's irresponsible and even unwise to trust that the Fed will be able to step in to save markets and inject liquidity forever.
Irons pointed to the numerous times in which the Fed and its leaders have missed major red flags - most notably when former Fed Chief Ben Bernanke said the housing market was healthy in 2007 ahead of the brutal crash that soon came to be.
The Fed's answers to too many problems, Irons argued, is to simply print more money. Bernanke once said the Fed could print it "at no cost," but Irons pointed out that there is always a cost. Purchasing power of the dollar "gets crippled," he said. "There's no such thing as no cost."
The central government has missed important indicators, suggesting relying entirely on its backup plans is too risky should the world become further fraught with geopolitical tension. Plus, even it reserves wealth in gold.
To Irons, that makes gold the best long-term investment to hold onto in any event - be that a bull market or a complete economic collapse.
"It's a store of value," Irons said of gold. "It has thousands of years of store of value and use as an economic instrument."
Irons argued that gold's biggest advantage is that it's not backed by the U.S. dollar. "Everything in the world is backed by the dollar," Irons explained, but no one knows what backs the dollar.
"It's back by confidence," Irons said. "It's backed by nothing."