Jim Grant is the founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, a journal that is published twice a month and is focused on the financial markets. It has become wildly popular due to its nonpartisan, often non-mainstream views of American economic policy, the Fed, and other types of financial martters. Grant’s often has insights and opinions that the mainstream media either don’t know or wants to avoid discussing, such as healthy skepticism based on astute analysis instead of on rhetoric and hype.
A native of New York City, Grant grew up on Long Island. His first love was music, which is how he thought he would make a living; the French horn was his particular specialty.
Grant started a short stint in the Navy when he was 18 prior to attending the University of Indiana. As an undergrad, he enjoyed courses in diplomatic history before finally concentrating on economics, in which he got his degree. He then went to Columbia to get his master’s in international affairs, though the highlight of graduate school was being able to study under Jacques Barzun, a widely acclaimed intellectual and cultural historian.
Though his schooling had focused on numbers and international policy, his first job after Columbia was as a writer; he was a cub reporter for the Baltimore Sun. It was there that he also met his future bride and discovered his penchant for financial journalism. Though he had an affinity for it, he actually got into it almost by default, as it was not a competitive field at the time, so there was no one else at the Sun to do the job. Jim Grant stayed there for a couple of years before his career took a turn.
Grant’s 1975 move to Barron’s was perfect timing. Before the 1970s, interest rates, inflation, and bonds were not interesting. Reader demand was nonexistent. No one cared to read about these so-called boring topics. But the 1970s, particularly late in the decade, were chaotic: worldwide, inflation was high and economic upheaval was rampant. As such, demand for news and analysis about bonds and interest rate rose, yet there was no supply.
Grant changed that when his boss, the editor at Barron’s, chose Grant to fill the void, which he did by writing a weekly column focused solely on interest rates called “Current Yield”. Grant stayed and wrote the column for nearly a decade.
Grant’s Interest Rate Observer
Jim Grant started his journal in the summer of 1983. Though well respected now, Grant’s hasn’t always been so. In the 1980s, Grant’s focused a lot of its analyses on risks in the market while other financial periodicals trumpeted successes and rewards. Grant’s periodical analyzed the impact of today’s actions on tomorrow while most other observers were simply dwelling on today’s riches and patting everyone on the back.
However, public opinion toward Grant’s took a turn in the 2000s. Whereas critics in the 1980s might not have appreciated Grant’s skepticism and warnings, critics after the turn of the century did. When Grant published a collection of his most popular columns, he was finally given his due appreciation. Many wondered how it could have happened that Grant had written a lot alluding to the 2007-08 crash years earlier, yet so many still missed it. Nowadays, Wall Street insiders pay attention to his candid warnings and insight.
A Sought-After Man with a Huge Impact
Jim Grant has garnered a lot of respect and attention for his eponymous twice-monthly periodical, but he’s also been very busy otherwise. His columns and articles have also appeared in The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. Grant is the author of over half a dozen books, which include several on financial history, such as The Trouble with Prosperity; two separate collections of his columns, including the widely acclaimed Mr. Market Miscalculates: The Bubble Years and Beyond; and three biographies, which include John Adams: Party of One.
He’s even become somewhat of a telegenic celebrity, as well. He’s highly sought after for his astute analyses of the financial world, so you can often find him touting his opinions and evaluations on television programs like “60 Minutes” and “The Charlie Rose Show”. He also had a long stint on “Wall Street Week”.