We have all been taught to “play by the rules” since the very beginning of our lives. Our parents did the best they could to teach us rules of proper behavior. That list of rules continued to grow longer the older we got, governing our day to day interactions with others.
In one of our meetings, Justin asked a question of me. He said, “Why is it that the only investment managers telling people to be careful are old timers like you? Jeremy Grantham of GMO, whose seven year forecast is negative in all asset classes other than emerging markets. Howard Marks, whose most recent memo “There They Go Again…Again” strongly suggests people be cautious in their investing today.
Most of us believe that experience in an occupation, measured by time spent on the job, leads to higher productivity for the employer and greater income for the employee. I agree that this belief holds true for most occupations.
Our lives often seem to be dominated by numbers. Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, account numbers… an unlimited number of 0’s and 1’s residing in thousands of databases, many of which are designed to keep track of our every move. Most of these numbers used to identify us are not necessarily wanted.
The CFA Institute’s second quarter 2017 Financial Analysts Journal included a research article penned by Martijn Cremers, professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame, entitled “Active Share and the Three Pillars of Active Management: Skill, Conviction, and Opportunity.”
The vast majority of businesses manage their operations according to a plan. That plan may be as simple as an entrepreneur writing down a few goals on a napkin, or as complex as a massive set of instructions covering the day to day, month to month, year by year, or decade by decade actions required to maximize profits.
Now that I am an honored member of the “gray-beard club” of investment managers, I can reminisce fondly back to the time when I first entered this business and began learning my trade with the utmost confidence of the “cute, fuzzy, teddy bear” youngster I was.
One of the greatest strengths of American capitalism is how it addresses the problems faced by its citizens. The greater the problem, and the more lives impacted by the problem, the more entrepreneurs, academics and government officials there are seeking solutions.
Three decades ago Sir John Templeton provided 22 rules for investment success to William Proctor who then shared these rules in his book, The Templeton Touch. Templeton’s first rule was: “For all long-term investors, there is only one objective – maximum total real return after taxes.”
We all know that our government and its agencies are very good at reacting to a real or perceived crisis with new laws and regulations designed to reduce the chances of another similar event occurring. The most recent example of this concerns the cost and availability of health care.