Marc Faber is a Swiss investor based in Thailand; he’s known as “Doctor Doom” as a nod to both his doomsday economic predictions and his economics doctorate degree. He’s built a career for himself as a contrarian investor who doesn’t conform to everyone else’s views. He’s lived and worked all over the world, and for several big names in finance, but these days he runs his own business. Not only does he live in Asia, but he also focuses his investments on Asia; he’s a director and advisor to a number of funds that are focused on such emerging or frontier markets as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.
Marc Faber was born in Zurich, Switzerland, though he spent his much of his childhood and grade school years in Geneva. He returned to his hometown and graduated from Zurich University with an economics degree. Several years later, in 1970, he earned his Ph.D. in economics.
After earning his doctorate, Marc Faber spent much of the 1970s working for White Weld & Company Ltd. His services and expertise were put to use in the firm’s Zurich, New York City, and Hong Kong offices, and he eventually settled in the latter in 1973. That same year, he started working for Drexel Burnham Lambert, where he stayed until 1990, when it went bankrupt and closed.
Faber formed Marc Faber Ltd that same year, where he served as investment advisor, consultant, and fund manager. His investing style was and still is bold and contrarian, yet he’s had demonstrable successes that have brought him worldwide renown.
One such success was his advice to his clients in 1987 that they get out of the market, which they did before the October crash that year, saving them many millions. It is from this that he acquired the “Doctor Doom” nickname, which came from the title of a 1998 book, written by Nuri Vittachi, chronicling Faber’s success: Doctor Doom – Riding the Millennial Storm – Marc Faber’s Path to Profit in the Financial Crisis. Faber became a celebrity and an even more highly sought-after consultant as a result.
Doctor Doom’s Predictions
Other predictions about which he was unerringly prescient include the Japanese economic bubble burst in 1990, the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, and the subsequent reactions worldwide to the Asia crash.
Since 2000, Marc Faber has had many successful investments based on several astute predictions – the rise of oil and precious metals, the post-2002 slide of the US dollar, and the rise of China, which he wrote about in Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s Age of Discovery. He was also bullish in the late 2000s on holding the Japanese yen.
Never afraid to put his money and reputation on the line, Faber has not always gotten it right, though. In 2012, he predicted a global recession by 2013, yet in the years following that claim, economies worldwide steadily grew. In 2015, he predicted gold prices would rise substantially by the end of the year, yet they dropped by nearly 15%.
These days, he believes that global hyperinflation is on the horizon and that investors should keep a grasp on their cash until markets correct themselves and present better opportunities. He’s bearish about the American economy for the long term because so much American manufacturing has been outsourced overseas that there’s not much here contributing to the American economy.
On the other hand, he’s bullish on emerging markets in Asia, pointing to the upswing in tourism in places like Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Enhancing this belief is that the tourists are mainly Chinese now as opposed to 10-20 years ago when the tourists were American and European. The coming juxtaposition of older Western economies subjugating their roles to Asian ones on the global stage could make for bumpy ride in the coming years.
Marc Faber is a prolific writer and advisor. In addition to the fistful of books he’s written, he also writes a monthly investment letter called The Gloom Boom & Doom Report, in which he gives his opinion and insights on various investment opportunities. Similarly, he does similar writing for the online subscription periodical Monthly Market Commentary.
He also regularly contributes to various financial websites all over the world, including Forbes, International Wealth, and the Wall Street Journal. He’s appeared on radio and television in Switzerland, the U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, and more.
Since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, Faber has been bullish on emerging markets even more than usual. He’s also bullish on commodities and believes that many smart bonds and equities plays are available in places like Russia and Kazakhstan.
Faber is not afraid to state an opinion, usually based on thorough research and analysis, and although his track record isn’t perfect, he’s been right often enough that it’s still prudent to pay attention when he speaks.