Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio is much smarter than I am. He's convinced that central banks are running out of ammo and there will be little to no hope to avoid an ideological struggle that, to me, says sell all stocks. You can gain zero confidence that it's worth owning stocks if you read what he said just now at an investment forum in Saudi Arabia. Whatever you have now, that's all you are going to have.
Billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach is smarter than me. On March 12 he said we are in a bear market and the stock market could go negative in 2019.
These two are among a parade of billionaires who are, per se, smarter than I am because I am not a billionaire. Maybe I would have been a billionaire, but I stopped way too soon to do media and my 24% after all fees for 14 years did not net me billionaire status even as I trounced the S&P 500, which was up 8% over that period of time.
What matters, though, is not whether I am a billionaire or not, but that I actually try to help you make money, or at least teach you the way I made money -- and I find my methods quaint now, and not able to withstand the billionaires' negativity.
For instance when I read what Ray Dalio says about income inequality and central banks out of gas I say to myself that Ray is not telling me to go buy Merck (MRK) or Costco (COST) . He's not giving me the high-five sign to buy Amazon (AMZN) on weakness or scoop up the ailing stock of McDonald's (MCD) .
He's not trying to steer me toward any mutual fund, let alone his hedge fund. He just joins a long line of people who are smarter than I am who are trying to keep you out of stocks because of big-picture issues, the same issues that would have kept you out of stocks in 1979 when I started investing.
He may not mean to scare you. He may actually have some pang somewhere about not helping the working person make more money. The fact is though, that you don't want to own stocks if either billionaire, who, again, are smarter than I am, is right -- and they have to be right, per se, or they wouldn't be billionaires.
All my life I have found people smarter than I am. While I graduated Harvard with a magna, there were lots of people who were smarter than I was. I had the highest grade on my generals in my major but so what, there were brilliant people like Bill Gates in my class, so I am dumber than he is because he's a big billionaire.
But here's what I knew back then and here is what I know now. One, I didn't have any money when I went to school. I cobbled together a bunch of scholarships including some money from RJ Reynolds for some free speech essay. Second, I was determined to help others make money. When I was crushing it in my dorm room leaving a stock tip every week on my answering machine -- "Hi, I am not here right now but I think you should buy the stock of Monolithic Memories ahead of the quarter" -- I was committed to help people make money.
Did I ever worry about central banks inflating bubbles? I said to myself, I am more stupid than people who worry about these things, but I am going to find stocks during these periods. In the great downturn, I found Salesforce (CRM) . Coming out of the downturn, I found FANG. Earlier this year, I found WATCH.
My stupidity and lack of billionaire status does not preclude me from trying to make extra money for you. I even formed a club so I could look like an idiot, publicly. I am castigated regularly on Twitter for not seeing the bubble and not recognizing that it will all end badly.
Frankly, I don't care. You see, the difference is that I could come out every single night on Mad Money and say "there's always a bull market somewhere, but to hell with it because we're all gonna die anyway." I could have billionaire status without being a billionaire.
But here's what I do say, don't take me with a grain of salt. At least I am working for you. Take them with a grain of salt. If they are wrong, big deal, they can just say they will be right. Me? I can be wrong, of course, but my goal is not to keep you in the chains I found myself in at Harvard, or when I lived in my car a few years after. I wasn't the smartest guy at college or law school, but I worked harder than everyone else I knew. I am duplicating the formula even as I am more stupid than the billionaires.
At least I have accountability. What do they have, and do they care? I'd say they've made their money. They're done. One day I will be, too. But not yet, and at least I'm still out here trying. I don't know what more there is to do.