Investor CAFÉ

Skousen CAFE: Positive or Negative about the Stock Market?

“Bull markets climb a wall of worry.” — Old Wall Street saying

I have on my bookshelf a series of books with opposite titles: “The Alpha Strategy” and the “Omega Strategy;” “Asia Rising” and “Asia Falling;” “Free to Choose” and “Free to Lose;” “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.” Visitors love the collection.

Now I can add the perfect counterpoint to Norman Vincent Peale’s classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” In “The Power of Negative Thinking,” the infamous basketball coach Bob Knight is critical about the “hollow platitudes” of the eternal optimists, such as “you can do anything you want to do in life” and athletes who are always praising God when they score a basket. There’s too much Pollyanna praise heaped on kids these days and not enough discipline. Knight emphasized eliminating mistakes and bad habits as the key to success in life. (Given his troubles on the basketball court, he himself is his own best and worst enemy of this principle.)

“Negative Thinking” will never be a classic like Peale’s book. Negative books can be bestsellers, but seldom classics. Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” is a classic business book and is still #51 on Amazon.com after 12 years… while Collins’ negative book “How the Mighty Fall” is #9,200, even though it came out more recently (2009).

In the stock market, there are a lot of sayings about bulls (positive about the market) and bears (negative about the market). There are “permabulls” and “permabears.” One of my favorites is “bears make headlines, bulls make money.” Fear sells more than greed. I know investment writers who have been constantly bearish, always predicting an imminent crash, for the past five years (since the last crash in 2008).

J. Paul Getty once said, “Businessmen can profit handsomely if they will disregard the pessimistic auguries of self-appointed prophets of doom.”

These Wall Street sayings can be found in my collection, “The Maxims of Wall Street,” available directly from the author by calling Eagle Publishing, 1-800/211-7661. The price is only $20 for the first copy, while all additional copies are only $10 each. I pay postage and autograph each copy. Or order a whole box (32 copies) for only $300 postpaid. To order, mention priority code MAXIMS to buy individual books and priority code MARKR to buy a box of 32 books.

Balance in life is the key, as Aristotle taught us. Nobody likes a naive Pollyanna, but neither do we like to be around people who are constantly complaining and finding fault. I don’t think I could live under the same roof as Bobby Knight. Despite his incredible success record as a basketball coach (winning more than 900 games and three NCAA championships), he’s too intense and critical for my tastes. But maybe I’m too negative…

You Blew It! Bloomberg Ignores the Real Problems in New York

“You blind guides who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

I find it ironic how New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is so focused on such small issues as drink sizes, while ignoring the massive infrastructure challenges in New York — lousy roads, third world airports, traffic jams, etc.

I’ve written letters to the Mayor complaining about the potholes and lousy transportation system, especially to and from the New York airports, and all I get is a letter saying how much money the city government has spent on fixing roads. Well, they are still lousy and full of potholes, and there is still not a good mass transit system to and from New York’s three airports. There’s no subway to LaGuardia or Newark airports, and the one to and from JFK takes forever.

Commodities guru Jim Rogers said it best in his latest book, “Street Smarts.”

“Having lived in Asia for a few years, I can tell you that when you fly into a New York airport, you are flying into a third world airport,” Rogers wrote. “Then you get into a third world taxi, you ride on third world highways, and even if you stay at a five-star hotel, you are staying in a third world five-star hotel. Five-star hotels in New York do not compare to five-star hotels in Asia. Nothing does… the infrastructure, the transportation. New York does not work anymore. JFK [airport] is just an embarrassment now. Go to Shanghai or Hong Kong or Singapore, and you are in a different world, a vibrant world.” (p. 115)

Jim Rogers’ new book is fun to read on every page: http://www.amazon.com/Street-Smarts-Adventures-Road-Markets/dp/0307986071.

To read my e-letter from last week, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

Gloria libertas, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen
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