Creative Capital

Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part V

If we wanted to—well, we do want to—we could go back 2,500 years and identify the exact point when human civilization went off the rails on the subject of experts. It’s 399 B.C. and a fellow named Socrates is languishing in an Athenian prison, awaiting execution. He’s been convicted (albeit by a narrow vote of the citizens …

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Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part IV

Not that long ago—say, when my parents were starting out in married life—building a sound investment portfolio was a piece of cake. You bought some Blue Chip stocks and some Triple A bonds and you were done. And even having to worry about building a portfolio was a very rare experience. The vast majority of …

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Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part III

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. (Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II, identifying the first step in building a better society) When I was growing up, my family not only never consulted a lawyer, I never laid eyes on one. Lawyers were completely irrelevant to the lives of almost everyone. Then, suddenly, I was …

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Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part II

I launched this series of posts by taking a brief tour of a regrettable society called Acirema, in which a race of experts called Masters, though a tiny minority, lorded it over a sub-race of non-experts called Slaves. We’re back, now, in America and wondering if Acerima society might offer a moral for us. Not …

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Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts

Is it better never to put your ideas in writing and thus be thought a vacuous fool, or is it better to launch your own blog and remove all doubt? To launch this series of posts with such a mouthful of a title—Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts (hereinafter DP&TE)—we’re going to engage in one …

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Cash is King

Since the end of the Financial Crisis eight long years ago, a notion has settled across the land that “cash is trash.” This is the bunkmate of the “TINA” principle: There Is No Alternative to owning equities. It’s easy to understand how these ideas took root. Since the Bear Market ended in early 2009 stocks …

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Explaining Donald Trump, the Conclusion

I have met the enemy, and he is me. (What Trump, channeling Pogo, should be saying to himself every morning.) Can Trump turn it around? No one knows, of course, but if my only slightly tongue-in-cheek analysis is correct, the best hope for Trump is that his dismal experience to date will prove to be a …

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Explaining Donald Trump, Part V

Donald Trump has been such a disruptive agent during his first few months as President that it’s easy to dismiss him as hopelessly incompetent. That would be a mistake: one common way MEPs (mega-entrepreneurial personalities) prevail is because other people write them off as unhinged lunatics. I’ll get to the lunatic aspect of our MEP …

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Explaining Donald Trump, Part IV

There is so much emotionalism about Donald Trump—both pro and con—that I’m trying to explain his behavior by looking at issues outside the man himself. I’m looking at how people behave who have very similar personality types (i. e., mega entrepreneurial personalities, or MEPs) and at how people are likely to fare in the Presidency …

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Explaining Donald Trump, Part III

I’m claiming to be able to explain Donald Trump—and predict his actions as President—by reference to only two of his characteristics. The first is that he’s what I’ve called a Mega Entrepreneurial Personality, a trait he shares with an infinitesimally small group of Americans. The second trait is something Trump shares with almost all of …

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Explaining Donald Trump, Part II

I’m determined to explain Donald Trump by referring to merely two of his traits, the first of which I’ve dubbed the Mega Entrepreneurial Personality, or MEP. Here are a few more examples of MEP characteristics we’ll need to consider as we try to understand the 45th President of the United States: MEPs are utterly fearless, not …

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Explaining Donald Trump

If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then explaining about Trump is like sneezing about hermeneutics. I believe it to be the general opinion across the land that anyone who thinks he can explain Donald Trump has probably just escaped from an Institution for the Criminally Insane. From where I sit it appears …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part VII

Well, the best-laid plans…I’d intended to interview the contestants in our little investment contest to get their take on the markets and on how well or badly they, personally, had navigated the various challenges those markets had offered. I was especially interested in what, if anything, the contestants had learned. But I was mainly thwarted. …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part VI

Bull Markets and Bear Markets are such momentous events that they tend to fixate investor attention to the exclusion of more important matters. Most people, for example, would define a “market cycle” with reference to Bulls and Bears. Typically, investors might view a market cycle as extending from the peak of a Bull to the …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part V

So far in our increasingly exciting investment contest, it’s been a positive experience all around. For the first three years the capital markets rose relentlessly: a modestly positive first year followed by two terrific Bull Market years. But things are about to change. Now, in Year 4 of our contest, the good times seem like …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part IV

Last week we observed how our investment competitors fared as they navigated a boring, so-so market environment. But this week things get more interesting. As we will recall, Years 2 and 3 of our contest were Bull Market years. The equity markets were so strong that even highly diversified portfolios rose 15% in Year 2 …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part III

Last week we asked Mr. Market to establish the playing field for our investment contest. This week we’ll check in to see how our contestants are faring. Year 1 of the contest, we will recall, was a so-so, boring year in the markets. Mr. Market’s portfolio—that is, a portfolio with exactly the same asset allocation …

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Capital Preservation Paul, Part II

On the last day of March, we launched our own, far more interesting version of March Madness, namely, an investment contest. Our contest features the Investing Final Four, that is, the four main kinds of investors I’ve encountered in a long and checkered career in the financial advisory business. But instead of competing for something …

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Capital Preservation Paul

I’ve been in the business of advising wealthy families for 40 years. (Actually, it’s been longer than that, but I’ve reached the age where everything gets rounded down.) Over all those years, almost every family I’ve worked with has followed an investment strategy focused on the preservation of their capital, and it’s not hard to …

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Loose Change, Part X

“Without courage all other virtues are useless” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire We are talking about climate change, this being the tenth and (finally!) last post in my long series on “changes” that might be considered by the new Trump Administration. In my last post, I alluded to scientific misgivings about the seminal “Seven Nations” …

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Loose Change, Part IX

Headline of the future: “Oat Bran—the Silent Killer.” (Woody Allen or David Letterman, I forget which.) We are courageously dealing with the controversial subject of climate change, but since my courage is running low, this will be our next-to-last foray into the subject. My fundamental argument about the climate issue is that while the climate …

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Loose Change, Part VIII

“What have future generations ever done for us?” – Groucho Marx Last week we took on the controversial subject of climate change. This week, just to demonstrate how reckless a humble blogger can be, we’ll return to the scene of the crime and do it all over again. When I was in college I took …

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