Every once in a while you get a wake-up call about how gloomy things really are. They come in all shapes and sizes. Today came in the shape of Jay Leno when he came on "Squawk on the Street" after ringing the opening bell to celebrate the second season of "Jay Leno's Garage."
After bantering about his program, both Carl and I wanted to know Jay's thinking on a couple of hotter topics and a man who captivated millions of people for years gave you a strong dose of medicine, optimistic medicine, and it tasted like a magic elixir in an otherwise soup of toxic negativity.
Jay's got one of the great car collections in the world, so how could I not ask him about Tesla (TSLA) His instant reaction: "I've got one, fantastic car."
He then went on to indict the current state of opining on the car and the man behind it, Elon Musk.
"I don't understand why people attack this car," he said "It's made in America, by Americans. It's built local. You know, we're becoming like the British. We like noble failures more than we reward success."
Jay professed to not know why that is, and he went to say, "I think Elon Musk is Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. I mean against all odds and people think he makes 2,500 cars a year. He builds 60,000. He sells more cars than Porsche and yet ... any time one has the slightest problem, 'oh, this is terrible, it's a horrible thing.'"
As someone who has test drove and ridden the car, Jay does have a pretty good point. And he is dead right when he says, "I don't understand why we don't celebrate entrepreneurship more and success in this country."
It is really true. While I have no idea how to value the stock, I do think that we underestimate that there are huge waiting periods to get a Tessla and you can get pretty much any other car that you want, most likely with a discount, tomorrow.
Jay pointed out that he's, "one of the people who believes engineers will save the world." He noted that Los Angeles has millions of more cars than it did in 1972 with a tenth of the smog.
Why do I bring all of this up? Because we often forget that there is such a thing as progress and progress can create a better world. Progress is also the secret propellant of stocks and it is overlooked as much as Jay says that we overlook the successes of Musk, like putting a rocket in space and instead "they show the one that blew up"
Some of the negative discourse is political, not just financial.
"I grew up in a different time," he said. "Clinton was horny, Bush was dumb. It was simple. You know, Gore was a robot. It was pretty easy."
He said the state of the moment "Is so ugly now I'm kind of glad I'm not on."
Wow, this from the man who was, at one time, America's premier entertainer.
Jay didn't have to say any of that. He could have shrugged it off with a laugh, but he went there and I, for one, am glad he did. We have gotten so negative on so much that it's definitely become the backdrop of the stock market. The gloom's been so bad for so long it's hard to believe anything can ever go up, least of all Musk's rockets. I suggest you use Jay's words not as a clarion call to go buy stocks. He sure didn't mean it that way. But as a remembrance that getting too pessimistic is at odds with the reality and that capitalistic success is pretty darned amazing and should be celebrated.
So, sell in May and June and July and all of the other months, but remember, just remember, that engineers have done amazing things, companies can create incredible products and stocks can go higher based on the simple notion of the palpable progress that Jay celebrated on his New York Stock Exchange pulpit when all he did was have to say watch "Jay Leno's Garage" tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET on CNBC.