Modern Economic and Portfolio Theory to be replaced by Common Sense

By: David Hague | Tue, Sep 18, 2012
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Dear reader might I suggest that you get a bottle of Gravol before you start to read this article. I will provide you with stock recommendations that will make you feel queasy at best, [hence the Gravol] and perhaps very ill at worst. I hope, to paraphrase Jack Nicolson's character in a Few Good Men, that 'You can handle the truth.'

To understand the validity and profit opportunity of these recommendations, I must preface my advice with two key macro issues that are critical to your appreciation of the value of my advice. I will take you through these steps and deliver you to a new theory of investing called 'Common Sense'. This theory is not new, rather it has allowed itself to be pushed aside by an intelligentsia of providers of investment advice who wish to complicate, obfuscate, and monetize the concept of investing and investment advice to serve their own desire for personal profit. They are ably abetted by world governments who have an insatiable appetite for campaign contributions, debt and reelection. As well, the purveyors of investment and economic wisdom are greatly assisted by citizens who have a desire to make sure that 'the music does not stop'.

The pensive lament of a tourist in 'The Hamptons', when looking at the yachts of Mr. Lynch, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Morgan and other Wall Street tycoons, who turned to his friend and asked "But where are the customer's yachts?", seems to capture the aforementioned issue appropriately.

Dear reader now we will see what this means for you. Let us examine the two key issues before we decide on a course of action.

The first macro issue is Modern Economic Theory and its cousin Modern portfolio Theory [MPT]. It is a truism of MPT that you must risk a portion of your portfolio to equities to provide for reasonable level of return over the long term. Every financial advisor is equipped with colorful historical charts that show you how equities have historically outperformed all other asset classes over the long term. [For the investment industry history began about 90 years ago, for the rest of us human history began about 10,000 years ago] But I digress, investors looking at these charts, that cover approximately 90/10,000 of human history, are quickly convinced that stocks are the right investment for a large portion of their portfolio.

There is however one statistic that never appears on these charts. Fortunately 'The Economist' magazine makes the information available via its GLOBAL DEBT CLOCK . Global Government debt accumulated in the last 90 years is 48 trillion dollars. If one was to include corporate and consumer debt the accumulated debt, would be, well, a very big number.

In simple terms for investors to understand the world's economies and stock markets are overvalued not by an arbitrary multiple of earnings, but by at least 48 trillion dollars. Fortunately Modern Economic theory allows this modern day Ponzi scheme to continue. So far so good, all is well.

However, [ you might want to open your Gravol now], The second macro issue pertinent to our analysis, is that the world's central banks have recently announced the arrival of permanent money printing. This is done under the guise of a baffling array of newly invented financial terms that have no relation to their purpose or impact of the action they represent. [Sterilization, QE, TWIST, etc]

These programs, we are told are undertaken to promote stability and growth. The reality is that these programs are undertaken for two very ugly reasons. The first reason is that the world has run out of money to lend to each other. The normal process that would bring this rather bizarre money lending back into some sort of equilibrium would be higher interest rates.

This brings us to the second reason these programs have begun in earnest. Higher interest rates can not be allowed as they would bankrupt governments around the world. Higher interest rates would be an event similar to those initial large investors who asked Bernie Madoff for their money back. It was these withdrawals that ended Mr. Madoff's 'Reign of Profit'.

Similarly higher interest rates would end the 48 trillion dollar 'sugar high' that the world is enjoying. Since there is no money left to borrow it must be printed.

Dear reader it is at this point that we must turn back the clock and rely on the 'Common Sense Theory of Investing'. The central axioms of Common Sense Theory of investing are:

A penny saved is a penny earned

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

If it sound too good to be true it probably is not true

A fool and his money are soon parted, as well as Will Roger's corollary to this axiom "A fool and his money are soon elected"

If you do not understand an investment do not invest in it. [Also known as the end of the derivatives market]

And of course Warren Buffet's rule, like Asimov's Three Rules of Robotics overrides all other axioms. "Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1."

The 'Common Sense Theory of Investing' tells us we should strive to be debt free, liquid, well educated, in good health, well prepared and well informed.

Now let us apply Common Sense to a variety of the most likely scenarios that will occur due to Government Debt and Money Printing. This will help guide our investment strategy.

Scenario 1- Money printing continues until money has not value. Wallets are replaced by wheel barrows. Governments will search for a scapegoat and declare war on somebody. Debt is repudiated and the cycle can begin again.

Scenario 2- Interest rates are allowed to rise, wallets are no longer necessary as no one has any money. Governments will search for a scapegoat and declare war on somebody. Debt is repudiated and the cycle can begin again.

Scenario 3-The children and grandchildren of baby boomers confiscate all personal property and assets of boomers to reduce the accumulated debt. [85% of the world's accumulated debt was accumulated by while the boomers were in charge] Boomers will no longer require wallets as they will be on a strict allowance administered by their children and grandchildren. Markets will collapse. Governments will search for a scapegoat and declare war on somebody. Debt is repudiated and the cycle can begin again. [However, only boomers will be allowed to serve in harm's way on the front lines.]

Scenario 4-The world allows market forces to act in an unrestrained and unmanaged fashion. Wallets will no longer be necessary as the only thing of value people will care about or carry with them is food and water. Markets will collapse. Governments will search for a scapegoat and declare war on somebody. Debt is repudiated and the cycle can begin again.

Scenario 5- The leaders of the great religions of the world, whose religions all espouse peace, sacrifice, concern for their fellow humans, concern for the environment, the sanctity of life, sharing and caring, come together and for the common good of civilization lead us through and uncomfortable painful readjustment to management of global finance based on the tenets of their respective religions.

Markets will collapse. Governments will search for a scapegoat and declare war on somebody. Debt is repudiated and the cycle can begin again.

Undoubtedly dear reader you would agree with me that Scenario 3 is the most likely outcome.

So, where does that leave us as far as our investments are concerned? The Common Sense Theory of Investing would indicate that you should be confused concerned and somewhat sick to your stomach [hence the Gravol] If you are not confused and concerned then you have not yet completely understood the Common Sense Theory of Investing, [or you do not read the newspapers]

All the likely scenarios indicate that at some point you will want exposure in your portfolio to the weapons industry. It is the only industry that has always been bigger this year than it was last year. This has been true for 10,000 years.

Do not waste your time reading the balance sheets and sales projections of any weapons company you choose as a suitable investment. This information is irrelevant. The only information you need to know is the efficacy of the weapon company's lobbyist at securing money from the government. You must study the company's lobbyists. They are the key to a weapon company's success. Find out if the weapon company's lobbyist is well connected in the halls of power. Does the company have lots of ex -politicians, civil servants and their family members working for them? Has the lobbying firm been indicted recently? [This is not a bad thing it simply means that the lobbying firm is willing to think 'outside the box']

Since the economic and financial events we are currently enduring have no precedent in scale or variety there is no model, no pundit, analyst or economist that can offer direction. Common sense tells that If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it's probably a duck. If money printing and government debt look like a potential disaster and feel like a potential disaster then government debt and money printing will probably be a disaster.

Common sense tells us to take our Gravol, to get liquid and get prepared. Get ready to buy a few weapon company stocks.

I would also suggest ensuring that you are on good terms with your children.

 


 

David Hague

Author: David Hague

David Hague
Funny Business

David has divided his time unequally for the last 30 years between the financial services, education, writing and comedy. He has spent time in financial services as an investment adviser, financial planner, sales trainer, corporate entertainer, and as a teacher of investment courses. He has also taught numerous financial courses. His work in comedy includes numerous corporate events and performances at comedy clubs. His background allows him to seamlessly move between the business world, higher education and the world of comedy and sometimes, to bring the two worlds together.

David can be reached at davidhague@rogers.com

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