September 10th, 2018


The Non-Furry Convention

So the main reason for our trip to KC was to attend a convention put on by my financial planner. I have a financial planner?!? Yes. I hired a company to manage my parents' money after my Dad died over a decade ago. I know just enough about money to make me dangerous. I wanted the advice of professionals. The company put on a convention for their clients to help make them aware about the state of money management in today's world. They also threw in a few motivational speakers to keep the agenda interesting. So not only did we hear about global economic conditions, we heard about happiness and positive thinking from some prominent speakers who have become TED Talk stars. The meeting was concluded by a talk by ex Secretary of State Colin Powell who gave his take on the state of the world. So what was my takeaway?

The Markets are doing just fine this year and probably next. The US economy is strong but is facing headwinds from overseas. Right now we're at the top of the economic cycle and likely to head downward after 2019. With that being said, my main takeaway is that the economic cycle is in constant flux. We keep hearing things like, "The bull market has been going on for too long! There HAS to be a bear market on the horizon!" But what was true in 1960 or 1970 or 1980 or 1990 or 2000 might not be relevant in today's world! Basic economic principles may still apply, but who knows what that means in today's world! What will things like AI and driverless cars do to the present economy? What if something unexpected happens to the Chinese economy? Will there be a trade war? How will the Eurozone react to immigration? How will the US deal with immigration? Perhaps the most comforting speech came from Mr Powell when he was asked about worldwide threats to the US. Basically his answer was that there is no major threat to the US in terms of our national security. China won't start shit with us because their economy depends on us. North Korea only wants to be left alone where Kim can rule forever. Iran wants to flex its muscle in the Middle East, but is not a direct threat to us. Russia is a shell of its former Soviet empire. They have no interest in war. The underlying message was to basically avoid mass media as much as possible. It's not so much "fake news" as it is sensationalist news that will get you to watch their program so they can sell advertising. This point was also brought up by an economics person who showed headlines and magazine covers from the 70's to the present which basically screamed the exact opposite of what people should be doing, e.g. telling people to stay out of the Market at the exact time when if you HAD put money into the Market, you would have made a killing. Conversely they said that you would be a fool not to buy Internet stocks just before the tech bubble burst in 2000. I always trust Warren Buffet's advice; "Be greedy when everyone is fearful and be fearful when everyone is greedy."

What was also encouraging to me was that I was in a room full of other "10%s." There we about 2600 people in attendance and many people looked just like me. It was just a bunch of average Joes who had saved their entire lives and are now reaping the benefits of their labors. There were probably lots of doctors, lawyers, and businessmen there who are the driving force of the economy. They weren't the folks with private jets or mansions on the Riviera, but those who just want to enjoy the pleasures of life (while also supporting charities and causes of their choosing.) I took that lesson to heart after the conference by treating Kitty to a lovely dinner at a local steakhouse. We had a nice romantic dinner with good steak and good wine. And did we then hop on our private jet to get back home? Nah. We had a 13-hour drive back through the wonders of Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.