Who Knows? Not Me.

The three most important words for an investor are I don’t know. These words will make one a pariah during typical hyperbolic cocktail party chatter. In the long run, this ego-deflating and lonely admission will save you a boat load of money. Most investors make money because of the things they decided not to do;…

The Financial Basket Of Deplorables

“To be a gross generalist, you can put more than half of investment products into what I call the basket of deplorables: overpriced, non-transparent, extremely conflicted, you name it. Unfortunately, there are people out there who believe the false stories sold to them.” This is my “financial product” version of Hilary Clinton’s uncomplimentary description of…

A Gangsta’s Paradise X 3

  Everything you do in life teaches you a lesson if you let it. Working for Lehman, U.B.S. and J.P. Morgan taught me what I did not want to do. Teaching in an impoverished middle school taught me what I did. With a lot of luck, I have been able to combine these two very…

Teaching, Women Investors, Bad Retirement Plans, and 80s Punk

  Recently, my wife and I had the pleasure of speaking with Dan Otter and Scott Dauenhauer of 403(b)Wise.com  fame.  If you read me regularly, you know that I have the utmost respect for them as they have been tireless in their efforts to educate educators and other non-profit sector employees about the perilous, shark-infested…

The Curse Of Fragile Perfection

Having a trauma free life can be bad for your health.  Too many people are experts at success, but amateurs at failure. This trait can be deadly for an investor. On any given day, it is no more than a flip-of-a-coin probability that a positive market close will result. Markets tend to fall in one…

Two Simple Financial Ideas That Saved A Nation

“No problem can be solved until it is reduced to a simple form.” – J.P. Morgan J.P. Morgan believed in making simplicity paramount when tackling complex financial issues, and so should you. Let’s take a trip back in time to the “good old days” of 1907: An era when women couldn’t vote; public lynching was…

The Only Vice That Cannot Be Forgiven

“A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.”  Adlai Stevenson, Former Presidential nominee and U.N. Envoy Do as I say, not as I do should be the mission statement for Wells Fargo. “Our ethics are the sum of all…

Humility, With A Touch Of Awe

“Neither fear nor awe is a productive response: both cut off questioning and the potential for gaining even a hint of understanding.”  – Samuel Arbesman, Author Whether we like it or not, our world is filled with very complicated systems. This is especially true of global capitalism. Picture an entity with the following characteristics: 15…

Invest Early, Go To School Late

Children often receive mixed messages on just about everything. Parents who drink and run up massive credit card debt often lecture their children about shunning these bad habits. Many public school teachers who have spent their entire lives in school give guidance on life in the private sector which they often have no experience in….

The Greatest Story Seldom Told

Fables and fairy tales are poor excuses for an investment philosophy. Too many investors have bet their life savings on the financial version of Science Fiction. The concept of evidence based investing takes an entirely different approach. Wide diversification, concentration on certain factors, and low investment friction (i.e., minimized taxes and fees) combined with a…