Our friend James Altucher has a new book out, The Forever Portfolio, which is an investment book — the subtitle is “How to Pick Stocks That You Can Hold for the Long Run” — but it is also full of James Altucher stories about poker-playing and idea-generating and other stuff, most of which is generally great. Here’s one review.
It may seem like bad timing to come out with a stock-picking book in the midst of a gruesome bear market. Or maybe it is great timing.
The book is full of sub-rosa and counterintuitive investment ideas. I liked the book a lot; in fact, I wrote the foreword. Here’s an excerpt:
James is especially good at making silk purses from sows’ ears. He finds the upside in identity theft, obesity, bot armies, and traffic fatalities. Some may grumble that he is ghoulish, preying on American vices and weakness in order to profit. That is a moral argument best addressed in a different kind of book than this one. What I will say about James personally is that he is a good and kind man, humane, a mensch even. … There is almost nothing in this book that isn’t thought-provoking. I hope you read it with the same pleasure that I did.
I got an e-mail the other day from James that nicely illustrates his thinking:
Last week Google had an interesting news item: you could track the spread of the flu using “Google Flus,” i.e. searching “flu” at Google Trends and seeing which states pop up first. But this was only a distraction from the economic news of the moment.
Perhaps a more insidious harbinger of things to come is the Google search data for suicide methods. Note the spike upwards in the last two months. While every day we see the financial toll the markets are taking on the world, the human toll has yet to be recorded, although the sadness and desperation resulting from dwindling retirement accounts will have their effect over the months to come.
I hope this spike results in an increase in therapy bills and then antidepressant revenues (benefiting Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and other big pharma companies), but my worry is that we’ll be reading deeply sad stories in the months to come.
People should realize that, like other catastrophes and major life events (from 9/11 to personal ones like divorce or loss of a loved one), this, too, shall pass. Stimulus will kick in, markets will recover, and the time we spent worrying will have been proved for naught.