This article will be quite different from my previous ones. I am not going to talk about the stock market, particular stocks, the economy, or the new president. Instead I’ll talk about life.
With his typical rhetorical gusto, President Trump has declared, “Pharmaceutical companies are getting away with murder.” My firm has been increasing our allocation to those “murderers,” and despite Mr. Trump’s comments, we are very comfortable with our positions in the long run (which lies beyond what may end up being a very volatile short run).
Macro forecasting has been disapproved of by value investors, and for 20 years this attitude paid off. The economic climate was favorable, the stock market was in overdrive and price-to-earnings ratios were expanding. Macro did not matter – until the housing bubble and financial crisis. Value investors who had had their heads in the sand got annihilated.
Investors enjoy the unique luxury of choosing problems that let them maximize the use of not just their IQ but also their EQ – emotional intelligence.
We had a lot of great experiences in Russia – mainly from family and friends. But at the same time it was also full of injustice, powerlessness, discrimination, lack of choice, and Russian-like poverty. In America, our past was a great motivator and none of the problems we encountered felt insurmountable. We feel very blessed to be here.
Trump’s ascendancy brings a lot of uncertainty – something the market is ignoring, for now. The business-oriented pragmatism that it loves today comes with nationalistic and protectionist “job creation” rhetoric that may result in trade (or even conventional) wars. U.S. foreign policy, trade, and military alliances that have been in place since World War II are being questioned by the new president.
I never thought I’d be giving writing advice. I was always the worst student in my literature class in Russia. I never received a grade higher than a C on any Russian essay I ever wrote. I have a theory that my teachers got sick of reading and grading my horrible essays, so they stopped and automatically gave me a passing grade out of pity. I don’t blame them.
During the past six years, the Federal Reserve neatly groomed, manicured and then finely polished investment slopes for all asset classes by lowering interest rates to unprecedented levels – providing a substantial accelerant that indiscriminately drove valuations of all assets higher.
Guy Spier published a book, The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment. It is not a traditional investing book. In fact, I’ll say that differently: This is the most untraditional book on investing you’re likely to encounter.
The article is very long. It is long for two reasons: first, it is was originally a two-part article that I folded into one; and second, I am dealing with the very complex topic of investing in today’s global economy. I wrote this article a year ago, and some themes like “be careful of MLPs” are not as relevant anymore, but overall it is still a very useful article for the world we face today.