Martin A. Armstrong
Martin Arthur Armstrong
November 1, 1949
|Known for||Economic Confidence Model|
Martin Arthur Armstrong (born November 1, 1949) is an American self-taught economic forecaster and convicted felon who spent 11 years in jail for cheating investors out of $700 million and hiding $15 million in assets from regulators.
At age thirteen, Armstrong began working at a coin and stamp dealership in Pennsauken, New Jersey. At age fifteen he bought a bag of rare Canadian pennies that for a brief period would have made him a millionaire, had he sold them before they crashed in value. After becoming the manager of his employer's store at the age of twenty-one, he and a partner opened a store for coin and stamp collectors. Armstrong progressed from investments in gold coins to following commodity prices for precious metals.
In 1973, he began publishing commodities market predictions as a hobby. As his coin and stamp business declined, Armstrong spent more time on his commodities ventures, launching a paid newsletter in 1983.
Armstrong has since traded under various business names, including Princeton Economics International, Princeton Economic Consultants, Inc., Economic Consultants of Princeton, Inc., and Armstrong Report, Inc.
After viewing The Toast of New York in high school, Armstrong came to believe that assets do not appreciate linearly over time and that, historically, some manner of economic panic occurs every 8.6 years. His economic philosophy was influenced by his father, a lawyer whose grandfather had lost a fortune in the 1929 stock market crash.
After finishing high school, Armstrong briefly attended RCA Institutes (now TCI College of Technology) in New York City and audited courses at Princeton University but did not obtain a college degree.
Economic Confidence Model
Armstrong's Economic Confidence Model is an economic cycle theory that proposes that economic waves occur every 8.6 years, or 3141 days, which is approximately . At the end of each cycle is a crisis after which the economic climate improves until the next 8.6 year crisis point. The theory is based on a list of historical financial panics (26 in 224 years, between 1683 and 1907), producing a frequency of roughly 8.6 years. Armstrong concluded that a wave of 8.6 years moved through larger waves building in intensity amounting to six waves of 8.6 years constructing a major long wave of 51.6 years. Also key are quarter-cycles of 2.15 years. Armstrong kept his cycle secret and The New Yorker commented that Armstrong suggested that his models were rooted in certain fundamentals and complex computer calculations, rather than in a simple mystical number.
On June 27, 1998, Armstrong was quoted in the Financial Times, predicting that the Russian financial troubles would prove to be more damaging to Europe than the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Other commentators in the same article argued that only countries with strong ties to Russia - e.g. Germany and smaller eastern European countries - would be severely affected. This turned out to be closer to the truth, with the British FTSE100 and French CAC 40 having fully recovered by December, and the German DAX reaching pre-crisis levels by November the next year.[original research?]
Armstrong frequently claims that in the article he predicted the economic collapse itself, claiming that this prediction drew the attention of the CIA. However, the possibility of a collapse was already well understood weeks earlier.[original research?]
In 1985 Armstrong was found to have violated Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulations by failing to register as a commodity trading advisor, failing to deliver required disclosure documents to clients, and failing to maintain proper records. In 1987 one of Armstrong's trading entities, Economic Consultants of Princeton Inc., was charged with failing to disclose a commission sharing agreement, and another of his entities, Princeton Economic Consultants Inc, was charged with misrepresenting hypothetical performance results and omitting a required disclaimer in advertisements. The penalties levied banned Armstrong and his companies from trading for twelve months, revoked their registrations, imposed cease-and-desist orders, and levied civil penalties totalling fifty thousand dollars.
In 1999, Japanese fraud investigators accused Armstrong of collecting money from Japanese investors, improperly commingling these funds with funds from other investors, and using the fresh money to cover losses he had incurred while trading. United States prosecutors called it a three-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Allegedly assisting Armstrong in his scheme was the Republic New York Corporation, which produced false account statements to reassure Armstrong's investors. In 2001, the bank agreed to pay US$606 million as restitution for its part in the scandal.
Armstrong was indicted in 1999 and ordered by Judge Richard Owen to turn over fifteen million dollars in gold bars and antiquities bought with the fund's money; the list included bronze helmets and a bust of Julius Caesar. Armstrong produced some of the items but claimed the others were not in his possession; this led to several contempt of court charges brought by the SEC and the CFTC, for which he served seven years in jail until he reached a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Under the terms of the agreement, Armstrong admitted to deceiving corporate investors and improperly commingling client funds—actions that according to prosecutors resulted in commodities losses of more than seven hundred million dollars—and was sentenced to five years in prison.
The case against Armstrong was finally closed in 2017, with the distribution of about $80 million to claim holders by the receiver, according to court filings. Armstrong appealed the refusal of the receiver to transport his remaining possessions from storage lockers in New York and Pennsylvania to him in Florida, but the appeal failed in 2019. Concerning his felony conviction, Armstrong is "unrepentant", according to Bloomberg.
Hidden rare coins cache
In 2014, a day laborer sold a box of 58 rare coins—which he said he had found while clearing out the basement of a house in New Jersey—to a Philadelphia thrift shop for $6,000. Three years later, in 2017, when the thrift shop announced they were to auction the coins—valued at $2.5 million—Armstrong came forward to declare himself to be the rightful owner. He claimed that he had hidden the coins in his mother's old house to take them "off the books" in anticipation of the public offering of his firm. The thrift shop sued Armstrong, asking the court to declare the thrift shop as rightful owners while Armstrong counter-sued, also seeking ownership. In 2019 the US government found out about the coins and claimed them as part of the treasure hoard Armstrong had refused to hand over in 1999, and for which he had served seven years in jail for contempt. (In addition to rare coins, the treasure hoard—valued at $12.9 million—included 102 gold bars, 699 gold coins, and an ancient bust of Julius Caesar.)
Armstrong was deposed and, according to Receiver Alan M. Cohen, Armstrong admitted hiding the coins. However, Armstrong's attorneys said in a court filing that Armstrong did not make this admission. The auction house now possesses the coins and the US government has filed suit to take possession.
The 2014 documentary film The Forecaster tells the story of Armstrong's financial model, his imprisonment and release. It was directed by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger and co-produced by Arte. The film presents Armstrong's claims that he is innocent, that the bank involved was at fault, that he was coerced into admitting to fraud, and that the FBI was after his economic model. Representatives of the United States Department of Justice were not interviewed in the film.
A Los Angeles Times critic described the film as "intended primarily as a name-clearing platform for Armstrong to relate his version of the events" and that it lacked perspective due to its failure to present commentary from authorities. A New York Times critic decried the film's "one-sided assertions and insinuations" and "less than skeptical" tone. A Washington Post critic observed that "though the Armstrong partisans in the film strongly suggest that [his models work], director Marcus Vetter struggles to convince the lay viewer."
According to DeSmog, Armstrong has frequently posted on his website denying the existence of man-made climate change. He claimed in 2018, "Climate is changing and it is part of the normal cycle – not human-induced.", and in June 2016 that "Britain is moving into an Ice Age".
Armstrong is divorced and has a son and a daughter.
- "Felon Forecaster Blogs on Cycles After 11 Years in Prison". Bloomberg. September 11, 2011. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
- Paumgarten, Nick (October 12, 2009). "The Secret Cycle: Is the financier Martin Armstrong a con man, a crank, or a genius?". The New Yorker. pp. 66–79. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Armstrong v. CFTC, 12 F.3d 401, 402 (3d Cir. 1993).
- Robin Blumenthal. "Circular Reasoning: A Market for Pi in the Sky?", Barron's, June 25, 2011
- Riley, Barry (June 27, 1998). "The rubble of the rouble". Financial Times – via Financial Times Historical Archive 1888-2010.
- Armstrong, Martin (August 12, 2016). "The Computer Has No Human Bias or Input". Armstrong Economics. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- Armstrong, Martin (May 4, 2014). "Conspiracy – Or Just One Step at a Time?".
- Armstrong, Martin (April 2, 2014). "The Age of Civil Unrest – Part II".
- Gordon, Michael R. (June 2, 1998). "Russia's Finance Picture Darkens Further as Market Falls". New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- Justin Fox. Time magazine. Pg 30; Nov. 30, 2009
- Mason, Paul (November 2, 2015). "Apocalypse now: has the next giant financial crash already begun?". The Guardian. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
- Armstrong, Martin (November 16, 2018). "Bitcoin-The End of Cryptocurrencies".
- Strom, Stephanie (September 17, 1999). "INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS - Japanese Regulators Get a 2d 'Scalp' Under Their Belts - NYTimes.com". New York Times. JAPAN. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
- Gilpin, Kenneth N. (December 18, 2001). "Republic New York Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud - NYTimes.com". New York Times. JAPAN. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- "Jailed Adviser Is Sentenced and Fined in Fraud Case". The New York Times. April 11, 2007.
- "Investor Ordered To Give Up Gold - NYTimes.com". New York Times. January 8, 2000. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
- De la Merced, Michael J. (April 28, 2007). "Jailed 7 Years for Contempt, Adviser Is Headed for Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
- Jones, Ashby (January 8, 2009). "No Charge: In Civil-Contempt Cases, Jail Time Can Stretch On for Years". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- "Market Forecaster Is Still Behind Bars - NYTimes.com". New York Times. JAPAN. January 18, 2000. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
- "Adviser Jailed Since 2000 Pleads Guilty in Securities Fraud Case". New York Times. August 18, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- "Ex-Adviser Out of Jail After 11 Years, Including 7 for Contempt". New York Times. March 15, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- Martin Arthur Armstrong, inmate # 12518-050, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Dep't of Justice.
- Hamilton, Colby. "Ex-Trader Armstrong Loses Appeal Over Personal Property Liquidation". New York Law Journal. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- Gretchen Morgenson (February 16, 2007). "In Fraud Case, 7 Years in Jail for Contempt". The New York Times.
- Dolmetsch, Chris. "Cult Economist Jailed for Hiding Rare Coins Says They're His Now". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- The Forecaster. www.theforecaster-film.de (in German). Retrieved September 30, 2023.
- Michael Rechtshaffen (March 29, 2015). "'The Forecaster' could have profited from even-handedness". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
- Nicolas Rapold (April 15, 2015). "Review: 'The Forecaster' Traces the Downfall of an Investment Manager". New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
- Michael O'Sullivan (April 9, 2015). "'The Forecaster': Criminal or financial wizard?". Washington Post. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- "Martin A. Armstrong". DeSmogBlog. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- Martin Armstrong (June 9, 2016). "Britain's Ice Age is Unfolding". Armstrong Economics. Archived from the original on May 14, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- "EQUITY". The Martin Armstrong Case online. January–February 1990. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2012.