The Stock Market is Difficult…But Don't Trust Whitey

As his father told Navin R. Johnson in the great comedy ‘The Jerk’…”Don’t Trust Whitey !

All kidding aside, it is a profound statement. If you trust ‘Whitey’ with your money or a home appraiser to value you home, I don’t think you are entitled to a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Like every rule, I believe there are times to break or bend them, but not often here. Last week I was driving by homes for sale signs in Phoenix that had a new hanging tag line ‘Below Appraisal’. That’s comedy.

My friend Roger has a great post up on the Rating Agencies . Same shit all the time.

Something is wrong when an entire industry teeters on the brink of destruction because of – what? – a change in credit rating. Consider the anxiety in and around the monoline insurers. The recent MBIA situation simply brought the point home: investors have given rating agencies too much power. Way, way too much power. Somehow, someway, large swaths of the investor landscape has effectively abrogated responsibility for conducting proper due diligence because an entity which, by the way, is paid for by the issuer, has said “this instrument is ok for investment if your risk tolerance is (choose your letter).

We are fat and lazy as individuals and corporations full of ‘smart’ people are no different. Don’t be like everybody else buying ‘sell side’ research and outsourcing your hard earned and/or stolen capital ( :) ) to ‘Whitey’.

You need to have a plan, but you can do this shit yourself. I think I am proving it on this blog everyday. Lindsay is proving it with her stock portfolio. She does not have a broker. Never has. She understands about commission costs (USAA at $3 a trade). She never heard of a stock before Wallstrip, let alone buy one. You will call her lucky, but I think she’s smart. She reads this blog and is finding ideas that are in tune with her thinking and stocks that are trending. I saw her today and we talked abut her stocks for 30 minutes. She knows I will kick her ass if she buys ‘rumors’ and stocks that are not my favorites mentioned here. I reminded her that stocks go down. It’s not always this easy.

Rose in my office has been patient, not traded and bought the best stocks she could understand in positive trends. She has been printing money.

Here is what I think Rose and Lindsay have done right. They found someone ‘me’ that they know they can reach (through my blog) or direct contact whose interests are aligned with theirs. They have taken baby steps, they have been very selective and they have been diligent about their stocks that they decide to own.

They are beating the pants out of me and every other mutual fund that they could have chosen. They will make mistakes. They will occasionally get lazy. If they don’t get too lazy, they should build their net worth and enjoy the stock market…the best part of capitalism that America has to offer (despite it’s many flaws).

As Roger concludes:

It all really comes back to the same issue: caveat emptor and for gosh sakes, do your job. Especially if you are a fiduciary. You simply can’t outsource responsibility for making decisions that are core to your mission. If you are going to invest in complex instruments, do the homework or don’t invest. And by all means, do not rely on the opinion of others whose motivations might not be aligned with your own. Because as we’ve seen, this can result in some very ugly outcomes.

Flying home finally and will be trying to stay away from the blog until Monday. It has been an amazing week of gains for the leaders. It may feel wrong to sell something, but you should.

Have a great weekend.


  1. james says:


    Any thoughts on USB? I got in it because buffett recently upped his ownership to 5% of the company. I’ve gone through their presentations and they look like they’ve done an excellent job avoiding the whole subprime mess.


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