Credit Suisse released a report with some shocking findings about a group of stocks you likely haven’t been paying attention to…
Across the entire world, across nearly every industry, from small cap to large cap, this forgotten category of stocks has outperformed its peers… and by a wide margin.
On the opening rant this week, Dan examines all the facts behind the surprising phenomenon… and discusses what potential investors should do with this information.
Then on this week’s interview, Dan invites William Green onto the show.
William has written for many leading publications like The New Yorker, Time, Fortune, Forbes, Barron’s, The London Spectator, The Economist, and many more.
He’s also interviewed Presidents, Prime Ministers, and scores of the world’s most successful billionaire investors.
He shares some of the best lessons he’s learned in his latest book, Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win at the Market and in Life.
During their conversation, William gives Dan some fascinating insights he’s learned during interviews with famed investors like Charlie Munger, Joel Greenblatt, Sir John Templeton, Jack Bogle, Bill Miller, Howard Marks, Tom Gayner and many more.
William has so many great stories that by the end, Dan promises William that he will definitely be invited back for another show.
Then on the mailbag this week, one listener writes in challenging Dan on one of his more controversial opinions and Dan felt the need to respond…
Dan doesn’t fully agree with everything the listener says, but after some careful consideration, he admits the listener is “absolutely right” on one important point.
Listen to Dan’s full response on this week’s episode.
William Green is the author of Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World's Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, April 2021).
Over the last quarter of a century, he has interviewed many of the world's best investors, exploring in depth the question of what qualities and insights enable them to achieve enduring success.
2:06 – “Over the last decade, the annual return generated by family-owned companies was on average 5% higher – that’s average annual return… That’s a lot man!”
6:48 – “Here’s this entire country of conservative investors who feel they don’t have any alternative because central banks have worked their mischief on the markets and pushed interest rates way low in the United States and negative in Europe and Japan…”
9:20 – This week’s quote comes from John Hussman of Hussmanfunds.com… “I believe that the market is at clear risk of a vertical panic or air pocket, much like we observed in 1987 and 1998. Neither of those panics was associated with a recession. They were just points where overextended investors attempted to reduce their leveraged positions into a market where the bids were insufficient to absorb the selling without large price discounts. A 20-35% decline would easily fit into that sort of outcome. The apparent stability of the market is living off of momentum here, so an initial break from recent highs, particularly in equities and low-grade credit may amplify rather than lessen downside risk because it would encourage a rush for the door…”
14:05 – This week, Dan invites William Green onto the show. William has written for many leading publications like The New Yorker, Time, Fortune, Forbes, Barron’s, The London Spectator, The Economist, and many more. He’s interviewed Presidents, Prime Ministers, and scores of the world’s most successful billionaire investors. He shares some of the best lessons he’s learned in his latest book, Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win at the Market and in Life.
19:50 – How does a man who’s interviewed dozens of the world’s most successful investors manage his portfolio? “I’m really trying to reduce the number of decisions I make, because those are opportunities to be stupid and make mistakes…”
22:09 – “I think one of the things that struck me in all of these years of interviewing great investors is that you do have to invest in a way that suits your temperament and your skills, so self-awareness becomes really critical…”
30:15 – William shares a lesson he learned during an interview with John Templeton, “For regular investors, you should really own 4 or 5 funds that expose you to different areas of the market. Because he said you shouldn’t be arrogant enough to believe that you can pick the one country, the one fund, the one money manager….”
36:08 – William gives the listeners a great lesson he got from investor Tom Gayner… “You just need to be directionally correct. You don’t need to be optimal. If you’re directionally correct and you get a bunch of the big things right, like owning stocks over the long term and adding during downturns, and just not panicking at any time, you’re so far ahead of the game.”
41:27 – William reminds us you have to be truthful with yourself, “Do I really have the appetite to be doing this? Do I want to be spending a lot of time reading annual reports and things like that?”
44:10 – Bill Ruane, an investor that Warren Buffet once recommended following, told William, “The only investor I’ve ever met who can do really well with a lot of stocks is Peter Lynch…”
53:36 – After Dan praises Joel Greenblatt for his writing, William shares a great quote from Joel… “If you buy stocks without knowing what you’re looking for, that’s like having a lit match and running through the dynamite factory. You might survive, but you’re still an idiot.”
59:06 – William leaves the listeners with one final thought, “I think one of the most powerful ideas that I got from working on this book is from Charlie Munger… he focuses immensely on reducing what he calls ‘standard stupidities’…”
1:06:52 – The mailbag this week is a little lighter than usual, but one listener challenged Dan on one of his beliefs and Dan felt the need to respond… In short, he asks, even if you’re personally skeptical of a climate disaster, shouldn’t an investor care that many consumers, companies, and governments are driving new investments in green technology? Dan admits the listener is “absolutely right” and further explains what he really thinks about the ‘climate crisis’.
Broadcasting from the Investor Hour Studios and all around the world, you're listening to the Stansberry Investor Hour. Tune in each Thursday on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you find podcasts for the latest episodes of the Stansberry Investor Hour. Sign up for the free show archive at investorhour.com. Here's your host, Dan Ferris.
Dan Ferris: Hello, and welcome to the Stansberry Investor Hour. I'm your host, Dan Ferris. I'm also the editor of Extreme Value, published by Stansberry Research. Today, we'll talk with William Green, and we'll talk about his brand-new book Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World's Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life. He's interviewed all kinds of super-famous investors. It's really cool.
This week, in the mailbag, just one question from Frederick S., but it's a good one. It identifies an investment opportunity, and it's an opportunity whether I like it or not. In my opening rant this week, I just want to point out two recent items. One is about a whole group of profitable stocks you might not be paying enough attention to, and the other item is just another crazy sign of the times. That, and more, right now on the Stansberry Investor Hour.
So, the first thing I want to talk about is – it's actually a piece that was put out by Credit Suisse, maybe four years ago. Yeah, four years ago, 2017. It's called, "The Irresistible Charm of the 'Family Factor.'" The family factor is just the fact that, as they point out in the report, family-owned companies tend to outperform the non-family-owned companies in their peer group. It holds true. It's like all regions, all sectors, all different sizes – big-cap, small-cap, mid-cap, everything in between.
They say – this was written in 2017. They said, "Over the last decade, the annual return generated by family-owned companies was, on average, 5% higher." That's average annual return. That's a lot, man. That's a lot. The difference between like 12% a year and 17% a year, just say, is a lot.
So, they have what Credit Suisse calls the CS Family 1000. Apparently, they have an index or a list of 1,000 of these companies. They start out the report, they say, "Whether you're buying coffee at the small café around the corner, driving a BMW or sitting in an Ikea armchair eating some fruit from the local grocery store, you are enjoying the products and services brought to you by a family-owned company. So, BMW, Ikea, and whoever else they're talking about.
This is something – actually, we've had – this is the sort of thing that you hear from folks like Chris Mayer. We've had Chris on the program before. I've known him for a long time. We were in the newsletter business for a long time and both kind of on the value side of things. Whenever Chris and I both pick the same stock, it tended not to do so great. So, we were always checking with each other to see if we liked – if the other one liked what we liked. Fortunately, most of the time, the answer was no. So, we both did pretty well over time.
Chris did much better over time. He's really great. He's managing money now, which he should be. But this is his kind of thing. He likes these family-owned, controlled, kind of holding company businesses where there's a really great investor, a really great family of investors running the thing. There are a lot of them, all over the place. But I just wanted to point that out. I'm not going to name any other names or anything. If you Google that report, it's free of charge. "The Irresistible Charm of the 'Family Factor.'" It was published in 2017 by Credit Suisse. I am certain if you read the entire thing, you'll be impressed. It's a whole different group of companies that folks aren't really talking much about most of the time. I don't see this written about at all, hardly. So, yeah, I think it's really cool.
I love off-the-radar kind of stuff. Everybody right now wants bitcoin and Tesla, and God knows what else, all kinds of crazy stuff, Dogecoin. I mean just crazy stuff right now. But you don't hear anybody talking about finding the family-owned companies and holding them for a decade or two. So, I just want to point that out.
The other thing that really grabbed my eye this week was an article in the Wall Street Journal. The gist of this article is that negative interest rates in Europe are pushing, in the case of this – more people in Europe, but in the case of this article, more Germans, more people in Germany, into the stock market. It tells the story of this one guy. He's a 70-year-old guy. He owns a clothing shop in Hamburg. He had like 300,000 bucks in a bank. He prefers – he says, "I don't want to make a lot of money. I just want a low-risk investment that provides a reasonable return on capital like 2% or 4%." That has always been realistic in the past. Yeah, 2%, 4%. Gosh, how hard is that? Right? Really hard nowadays, especially in Europe.
But earlier this year, it says, his bank told him it wanted to charge him 0.5% interest to keep the money in the bank. That's negative interest rates. You apply that to a bank account, and you're charged the interest rate. You don't earn it. You pay it. He was furious. He did something he never thought he'd do. It took all his money out and put it in the stock market.
Apparently, in Germany, they're a little more conservative than we are. It's like they say less than 18% of Germans 14 years of age and older hold shares, equity funds, or exchange-traded funds. Then they offered this other statistic that we probably all know in the U.S., 50% of families hold stocks directly or indirectly, according to the Federal Reserve. So, here's this – well, let's just, you know, make a possibly unwarranted generalization. Here's this entire country of conservative investors who feel they don't have any alternative because central banks have worked their mischief on the markets and pushed interest rates way low in the United States, negative in Europe and Japan, and people are responding by doing what? Taking more risk.
This guy says he just wants a reasonable return on capital low-risk investment, and he's putting all his money in the stock market. Now, you could say, "Yeah, but Dan, this is going to pull more people in the market, right? So, it's kind of bullish." I guess you could say that, but it's not good because risk-averse people are now taking on more risk than they want to take on.
This is the most – the reason I call this out is because this idea of low interest rates pushing people into more risk, it's been around. It's an obvious outcome. It's an obvious insight. But this is the most pristine example that I've seen in the press of someone saying, "I used to do a very unrisky thing. Now they're charging me 0.5% for it. So, I am going to go do the risky thing." It just seemed like, "Wow, it's real." It just made the whole thing so tangible.
He put his money with this boutique firm that has some kind of a fund or whatever. The guy who runs that firm said, "In my 22-year career, I have never seen anything like this," right, meaning people doing exactly what this guy is doing in Germany. Sign of the times, man. Sign of the times.
OK, it's time for my quote of the week. It's kind of a big one this week. The reason I included this is because I wrote about this phenomenon, so far, I believe, just one time in the Stansberry Digest. Then, today's quote of the week comes from John Hussman, at hussmanfunds.com, when he wrote about it in his most recent market comment. I had to include it because I just want to periodically put this bug in your ear because I think it is a realistic possibility. If it does happen, it's going to hurt, and you're going to have to be prepared for it because you don't want this sort of thing to come out of the blue. So, let me just do the quote, and then you'll get what I'm talking about.
"I believe that the market is at clear risk of a vertical panic or air pocket, much like we observed in 1987 and 1998. Neither of those panics was associated with a recession. They were just points where overextended investors attempted to reduce their leveraged positions into a market where the bids were insufficient to absorb the selling without large price discounts. A 20% to 35% decline would easily fit into that sort of outcome. The apparent stability of the market is living off of momentum here.
"So, an initial break from recent highs, particularly in equities and low-grade credit, may amplify rather than lessen downside risk because it would encourage a rush for the door. Our outlook will change as observable conditions do. It's worth remembering that air pockets, panics, and crashes typically reflect a depressed and inadequate risk premium being driven higher. No other catalyst is needed but a brief bout of risk aversion or profit-taking that nicks overleveraged investors enough to provide a concerted and self-reinforcing attempt to exit." That's John Hussman from hussmanfunds.com.
Like I said, I agree with this. I think that the higher the market goes from here, the more likely it becomes that we could see something like – he says a 20% or 35% decline. So, over a short period of time, maybe even as short as one day. I mentioned this before. So, the rules of the stock exchange say when the market's down 20%, we shut down the exchange for the day. So, theoretically, it can't fall more than 20% in one day.
I would submit to you that it can and that the powers that be, try as they might, don't have as much control over markets as they think they do. I don't think human beings – human beings are a part of nature. We don't control it as much as we think. That includes societies and economies and markets. I think it's possible that we could get a 25% one-day drop. I think that's possible.
Now, for most people, all they need to do is be aware that it could happen and not do anything, probably, because it would probably ratchet right back up the next day. Or recover – I mean, down 20% to 35%, Hussman says it would not be a great buying opportunity. Overall, that may be true if you're just looking at the multiples, the valuation multiples of the S&P 500. But I'm pretty sure that if you got an event like that, you'd find some bargains. If you had a list of stocks that you really wanted to buy if they got cheaper, you'd probably get a chance to buy them that day.
So, it's a good thing to just keep in the back of your mind. It's unlikely, right? It's unlikely. But as Hussman points out, it probably becomes more likely as the market goes higher when it's this high already. OK, pretty cool stuff. Just keep it in the back of your head. Let's do our interview today. Let's talk with William Green. Let's do it right now.
Every week, I tell you I'm the editor of Extreme Value, published by Stansberry Research, but I don't usually say anything more than that. Well, to my dedicated listeners who are looking to find incredibly valuable, long-term investments, I'll tell you right now, my Extreme Value newsletter is a monthly publication that focuses on buying safe, cheap stocks only when the price is right. I'm not overexaggerating. Extreme Value picks have earned one of the most impressive track records in the industry.
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Really excited about this one. Today's guest is William Green. William Green has written for many leading publications in the U.S. and Europe including – get ready for this list – the New Yorker, Time, Fortune, Forbes, Barron's, Fast Company, Money, Worth, Bloomberg Markets, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Observer, the London Spectator, the London Independent Magazine, and the Economist. He has reported in places as diverse as China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the U.S., Mexico, England, France, Monaco, Poland, Italy, and Russia.
He has interviewed presidents and prime ministers, inventors, criminals, prize-winning authors, and CEOs of some of the world's companies, and countless billionaires. While living in London, Green edited the European, Middle Eastern, and African editions of Time. Before that, he lived in Hong Kong, where he edited the Asian edition of Time, during a period in which it won many awards. He's obviously been around the block a few times, and now he's stopped in to talk with us. William Green, welcome to the show, sir.
William Green: Thank you so much. That introduction makes me sound much more interesting than I really am. So, I'm going to have to try to raise my game here.
Dan Ferris: Yeah, that is – I will say, that is a substantial introduction to live up to. But I have no doubt that you will not disappoint us. So, William, I have to tell you. I've thought about how I wanted to start this. I used to get people to tell me about their origin story, or whatever. But there is one sort of glaring question, for me, as an investor, and maybe even for our audience as mostly individual investors, that kind of jumps out. Because I know you've spent a fair amount of your career interviewing all these great investors and writing – you've got your new book out that we're going to talk about today. I have to wonder, "What's in the personal portfolio of the guy who has interviewed every fantastic investor on earth?"
William Green: I have a somewhat schizophrenic portfolio myself. I'm not presenting myself as a great investor, myself. I'm a channel for the great investors rather than a great one myself. But I'm schizophrenic in the sense that I've owned two index funds for decades as a kind of default position, partly for my wife's money and my kids' money, because I figure they shouldn't suffer for my delusions that I can beat the market. So, as a kind of default position, I tend to put money in the Vanguard International Index Fund and the Vanguard Total Market Index Fund. That's a sort of default position.
Then I owned a fund called the Aquamarine Fund, which is a hedge fund run by a close friend of mine, called Guy Spier, who I helped his memoir, The Education of Value Investor. I owned that for more than 20 years. One of the reasons that I like that is that it's very similar to the way that I think about investing. He's very long-term, very patient, detached from the market. He can go a whole year without buying or selling anything quite happily.
So, he's had the discipline, for example, to have put maybe a quarter of his fund in Berkshire Hathaway around 1999 or 2000, when nobody liked it, and everyone was saying that Buffett had lost his touch. He's held it ever since. I would never have had the patience to do that. One of the things that Guy has is this kind of superhuman patience and willingness to do nothing as a default position.
He's relatively concentrated, say, as much of his money in the top 10 stocks, but he owns probably 22, something like that. So, it's a nice balance between concentration and diversification. It's very international. He tends to own companies that are likely to do well over a long period of time. He owns both large-cap and fairly small, obscure companies from different places.... tends to be fairly contrarian. So, those are a lot of things that tick the boxes for me.
Then I also own a fund run by a guy called Josh Tarasoff, who also is from a similar mold. It's a very small hedge fund that owns probably about 10 stocks. So, it's very concentrated. He knows a lot about the companies. He's totally detached from the market. He's just looking for businesses that are going to do great over a long period.
So, in a sense, both of them are from that mold of people like Buffett and Munger, Joel Greenblatt, who are very rational, somewhat concentrated, and long-term. That, I think, suits me temperamentally. I would say Josh Tarasoff's a bit more aggressive than Guy. So, in a way, there's this kind of schizophrenia. I want to make money, but I'm also slightly fearful, and I want to be patient, but I'm aware that I have impatience in my makeup.
So, one of the things that helps me is actually the fact that if I were ever to sell the Aquamarine Fund, I would regard it as such a betrayal of my friendship with Guy Spier, that I'm using this weird glitch in my personality to keep me patient, because I know that it's going to help me not to make so many decisions. So, I'm really trying to reduce the number of decisions I make because those are just opportunities to be stupid and make mistakes.
Dan Ferris: So, you sound like a man who knows himself really well and makes the right adjustments in his finances to account for that, which is admirable. Would you say that interviewing all these folks, these billionaire investors, has helped you develop in that way? In the intro to your book, you said you had a really nasty gambling streak when you were younger. So, you've gotten over that, apparently, it sounds like.
William Green: Well, yeah. I think the gambling streak, which was – I was betting on horses when I was around 15 or so. I think, really, it was mostly about laziness. It was just I liked the idea that by thinking and just using the money that you had, you could make more money. I think that same streak is alive and well in my love of the stock market. The idea that just by exercising a little bit of intelligence and thinking well and having a good temperament that you can make money without actually doing anything very hard like going out and building stuff or lifting things is pretty appealing to me, because I'm just a pretty lazy human being, and also a little bit of a smart aleck. So, the idea of outthinking the crowd always had a tremendous appeal to me.
When I look at some of the great investors that I've interviewed, people like Joel Greenblatt, for example, I can see that they have that same joy in just bucking convention. Greenblatt, one of the things that he did, he had these professors at Wharton who were always telling him that the market is efficient. I think he just has taken such joy in proving them wrong again and again over decades. So, he had this fund that famously averaged 40% a year for 20 years. So, there was something really wonderful about the glee that he took in just showing his professors that they were wrong and that if you could find these mispriced bets and were more rational, you could outwit the crowd.
But I think one of the things that struck me in all of these years of interviewing great investors is that you do have to invest in a way that suits your temperament and your skills. So, self-awareness becomes really critical. So, one of the things that I see when I look at someone like Joel Greenblatt is that he has a temperament that's pretty much optimized for investing that I simply don't have. So, he's extremely rational. He's always thinking about odds. He's always calculating, "What's the downside here, and is the upside massively greater than the downside?" He's a kind of codebreaker. So, I think he's always enjoyed the idea of figuring out how the game of investing works, how the market works, how to beat the market.
So, there's something about his temperament that just is – and also just the competitiveness of the guy. He's just very driven and very competitive and, yet at the same time, extremely calm and dispassionate. So, I think if there's a takeaway that I've drawn from this and that I hope your listeners draw as well, it's that the self-awareness is really helpful because, as I joke in the book, in extreme sports like skydiving and stock picking, you really pay a price for self-delusion. So, if you overestimate yourself or you play a game that you're unlikely to win, you tend to pay a pretty high price.
So, I think one of the first questions that any of us want to ask is, "Do I actually have the skills and the temperament to play this game and to win the game?" There is this extraordinary default position in investing, which is you can just say, "Well, I'm unlikely to beat the market because I don't have a great temperament for this and maybe I'm too lazy to pull apart balance sheets and the like. So, let me just put at least a large portion of my money in index funds.
Howard Marks, who manages about $120 billion at Oaktree and is an extraordinary investor and a multibillionaire said to me, "Most people should index most of their money." So, I think that has to be the default position, and then you can decide, "Well, I'll own a few stocks." So, I own three stocks. Or maybe if you really are much better equipped to do this than I am, you say, "OK, so maybe I'm wrong. Let me outsource half the money, and then index the rest." So, just being honest with yourself, I think, about your skills and temperament puts you in a much better position than 95% of investors who are just flying blind and doing things ad hoc and are delusional about their own skills.
Dan Ferris: It seems like there are a lot of those folks around these days.
William Green: Yeah. Thank God because that's what provides us with opportunity, right? I mean, I remember Bill Miller saying to me once that his – he was once complaining to his wife at the time. He was saying, "God, I can't believe how stupid everyone is in the way that they invest." She was like, "Well, that's lucky, isn't it? That's how you do so well." He said, "Oh, yeah, that's true."
So, we're lucky that most people are irrational and overemotional because if you do have an ability to step back from the crowd and keep that noise out, the irrationality out, not get caught up in fads, and just think a little bit more clearly, the market is this wonderful mechanism for transferring money from people who are irrational and impatient and overemotional to people who are rational, patient, dispassionate, logical, and also who know how to value businesses and assets. That's an enormous advantage.
Dan Ferris: Yes. There is actual skill. Beyond knowing yourself, then there's a whole suite of skills to master. It's an unusual group of people, isn't it, who put it all together, from the temperament all the way up to the skills? It fascinates me that they are all so different. Buffett pointed that out once in his "Superinvestors" essay how they were all value investors and yet they all did everything so differently. That strikes me about this group that you're written about, too, in your book.
William Green: Yeah. I think there's a lot of different paths up the mountain. There are some people who are going to buy small-cap stuff. There are some people who are going to be a little less price-sensitive, a little less value sensitive who are just going to be betting on higher-quality companies. There are some people who are going to concentrate very intensely on a handful of picks that they know very well. Then there are some people who are just too fearful to do that and need to diversify broadly.
So, I think part of it is just figuring out how to invest in a way that you're going to be able to handle the volatility and the inevitable surprises. So, for somebody like, say, Jean-Marie Eveillard, who I interviewed at length for this book, and also for a previous book, he said to me, "I just don't have the confidence of people like Buffett and Munger to concentrate so much." So, he ended up owning 100 stocks, which is quite a lot, I think, and makes it very difficult to outperform. But he had this process that was very focused on error elimination and on risk mitigation and on steady compounding.
What he did is he basically reduced – he reduced a lot of errors and avoided three massive blowups over the course of his career. So, for example, I think during the period where there was a bubble in Japan before the market there really crashed for the next 20 or so years, he just got out of Japan totally because he couldn't find anything cheap enough to buy, which is a very difficult thing for an international investor to do. Then he did the same thing during the dot-com bubble in the late '90s, where he also just avoided all of those hot stocks and almost lost his career because of it because he underperformed so much for three years. Then he did the same before the financial crisis and avoided overpriced banks and financial firms.
So, for him, it's a totally different approach than someone like Munger, who will famously say, "You could have a well-diversified portfolio that had just four stocks in it." So, Munger who has very little emotion and is just a sort of probability calculation machine and just can quietly make these dispassionate bets. Really doesn't need to diversify. But I'm not Munger. I'm not as smart, and I don't have his temperament, his coolness, his lack of emotion.
So, I'm a little bit more like someone like Eveillard. So, for me to have a healthy respect for uncertainty and for the fact that the future is unknowable is very important. But at the same time, I know that if I overdiversify, then I'm basically just creating an index fund with high expenses. So, I'm trying to get some sort of balance between concentration and diversification. So, that, in a way, gets the kind of schizophrenia of my own portfolio.
Whenever I try to get carried away and I think, "No, no, I should put everything with this one person or in this one fund or in this one sector," I'm reminded of an interview that I did many years ago with Sir John Templeton, who I describe in my book as probably the greatest global stock picker of the 20th century. He said to me that for regular investors, you should really own four or five funds that expose you to different areas of the market because you shouldn't be arrogant enough to believe that you can pick the one country, the one fund, the one money manager. So, that's been one of my kind of golden rules that I think has prevented me from really getting too confident in my own ability to find the one path up the mountain.
So, I think that's a healthy conflict to have internally, to have this sense that, yeah, you want to concentrate on your best picks because that's how you outperform, but you also don't want to get overconfident because the most important thing is that you stay in the game. Because if you get knocked out of the game and you have to go back to "Go", that's really disastrous. So, just the ability to keep compounding over a long period of time is hugely powerful.
So, if you look at someone like Eveillard, who we mentioned before, Eveillard, while being very conservative with this portfolio of about 100 stocks, averaged, I think, 12.5% a year over, they say, something like 30 or so years. He and his successor Matt McLennan, I think, I figured out that cumulatively – yeah, this is from 1979 to 2020. So, this is – that's, what, 41 years? They compounded 12,845%. So, they actually beat the market by about 8,000 percentage points by simply avoiding catastrophe. The power of steady compounding over 40 years or so without disaster is so enormous because compounding is such an extraordinary phenomenon.
So, I think there's great wisdom in that idea, that you just don't want to knock yourself out of the game. So, instead of taking wild risks, if you can keep steadily compounding over time, you're in such amazing shape anyway that you actually don't have to do anything too heroically bold.
Dan Ferris: Yeah, there's a lot to be said for the ability not to sell. Not even – people say, "Well, should I buy more when the market is down?" As far as I can tell, over time, even that is not necessary. That skill and that bravado, it's just not necessary. If you can just hold for a very long time. You have whatever it is, your index fund and maybe you have Berkshire Hathaway shares or something like that, or the Aquamarine Fund or something like that. If you can just hold, just not doing anything. Buffett had a great quote about sloths being the hallmark of their style or something like that. Sloth is hard for people, isn't it?
William Green: Yeah. It's a really interesting idea because, as I mention in my book, in most areas, there's a – you're really praised for being highly active and dynamic. This is one of those areas where actually, as Buffett has said, "We're not paid for activity. We're paid for being right." So, if you can place a smart bet and then just sit on your hands for a long time, it's – it's countercultural in a way because we're all being pushed to do more, faster, and juggle more jobs and juggle more tasks, and reply to e-mails constantly, and go to meetings constantly, and publicize things on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook or like things. So, everyone is moving toward hyperactivity.
I think this is one area where, if you can set yourself up in a countercultural way, just to be very patient and calm and make a few good decisions, it's so powerful. So, even something like deciding relatively early on, "All right, so I'm going to take advantage of tax advantage vehicles, whether it's 401k, 529, IRA, and I'm just consistently going to add to them, and I'm never going to sell during down periods, and if I can add, great." Then just keep plugging away, keep adding over the years. That, alone, is so powerful.
Then, if you can do a few smart things around the edges. I mean I did, during the COVID crash I guess around March, April of 2020, I did buy more Berkshire Hathaway because I just thought, "Well, this is something I'm going to be happy to own for five, 10, 20 years." It felt like buying an apartment at a time when a city is massively downtrodden, but it's a great city and you know that it will do well in the end. Then I just didn't do anything else. I think I bought Berkshire three times because it kept going down. Then you just sit there. I'm happy to wait for many years.
So, I think just the fact that I avoided doing anything particularly stupid and then did one thing that was relatively smart. I wasn't picking necessarily the best thing that was going to bounce back the most. But one of the ideas that I got from this guy, Tom Gayner, who I write about at length in my book, is that you just need to be directionally correct. You don't need to be optimal. If you're directionally correct and you get a bunch of the big things right, like owning stocks for the long term and adding during downturns and just not panicking at any time, you're so far ahead of the game, and you're so directionally correct that, basically, if you live within your means and you're not overexposed, you kind of can't fail to get very wealthy over decades, I would say.
Dan Ferris: Yeah, I think it was John Bogle who told the story of the fellow who never made more than I think it was like $25,000 a year or some small amount of money like that and did exactly that. He just sort of plodded along, never sold anything, put money away. I think he had a net worth of a million and something, which for a guy who was making $25,000 a year is quite substantial. But it was rather effortless, it made it sound.
But it's not effortless, is it? It's quite effortful not to sell and not to panic and all that. The thing is, the trading activity might be minimal, but behind the scenes, it's like the swan paddling across the pond. Buffett works constantly. All these people who are great at this, they're constantly working. They're in love with it. Yet, the decision-making comes down to sort of one thing every year or something. It's interesting.
William Green: Yeah. What you were saying about them being in love with it, it's a very interesting thought because at the same time, as they're extremely patient and extremely calm, there is this kind of ferocious intensity to what they do. So, I don't want to give the wrong impression that they're just kind of sitting there and twiddling their thumbs because they do that and they're reading constantly, but there is this fierce intensity and competitiveness that I've seen in these guys. There's a wonderful story that I mention just in a footnote of my book where I write about Will Danoff who manages more than $200 billion at Fidelity. He's got this extraordinary record over 30 years at the Contrafund.
And Bill Miller, who also has an extraordinary record who, famously, beat the market for 15 years running is a pretty close of Danoff's. He was – I said to him, "When did you meet? How long have you been friends?" He said, "Oh, well, I met him at this conference, I think, in Phoenix, like 30 years ago. Someone introduced me." He said, "I held out my hand and said, 'Hi, Will.'" He said, "He didn't take my hand. He just looked at me and said, 'I'm going to beat you, man. I'm going to beat you.'" I thought it was such a wonderful insight into just the sheer intensity of the guy. Through some quirk of wiring, here we are after 30 years.
He says, "I still just give a damn more than most other money managers. Most of them are in it for the money and the glory." He said he's afraid of messing up. He knows that he's in charge of people's retirement money and their kids' education money. He wants to set a good example, and he's super competitive.
So, one of the stories that he told me that I thought was very revealing was he was going on a trip, I think, to California. He's talking to his team, and he's going to visit all of these companies. He literally meets with hundreds of CEOs a year. He says to the person who's in charge of this schedule, he's like, "We don't have anything at 4:30 on Thursday. It's like a total waste of time. What do we have scheduled?" He's like, "Why don't we go see Tesla?"
So, this is like a decade or so ago. Tesla was this money-losing company that was an afterthought, and nobody was interested. So, they arranged to go see Tesla. I think by the time they get there, it's already dark. It's like the end of the day. A few minutes later, Elon Musk comes down to meet him, because Fidelity's powerful. They're managing seven trillion or so dollars. Here's one of their marquee players, Danoff.
So, he meets Elon Musk. Musk kind of says to him, "No, no, you don't understand what we're doing. We're trying to make cars that Americans will be proud of. We're going to win because we're actually making something beautiful and fabulous." I think Danoff just realized that this was kind of a special guy and made this very early an extraordinarily lucrative bet in Tesla. You could say that it's luck, in some sense, but actually, I would say it's the willingness to make that extra meeting, to do the extra call.
It's not a coincidence that he was a protégé of Peter Lynch, who I also write about in the book, because I interviewed him many years ago. Lynch just said, "You need to turn over as many rocks as possible." So, he said, "If I can turn over 10 rocks, I'm more likely to find one good company then if I only turn over five rocks." So, he was just hugely competitive.
So, I do think that's another thing that's an important takeaway for us is just to say, "Well, do I really have the appetite to be doing this? Do I want to be spending a lot of time reading annual reports and the like?" I think for someone like Buffett, it's kind of joyful and soothing just to sit there with his blinds closed in his office, just quietly reading annual reports. Whereas I kind of think it would be really boring for me. Whereas I'm perfectly happy to sit around reading obscure books on any subject and kind of thinking, "Oh, that's really interesting. There's an idea here within philosophy that relates to this idea within spirituality, which relates to this idea in sports, which relates to this idea in investing." That just, to me, is kind of blissful. Really, it's idiosyncratic.
So, I think part of it – Munger talks about this. He says, "A, you don't want to be trying to become a basketball player if you're five-foot-four... you don't want to be competing against people who are eight-foot-three," as he puts it. So, it needs to be something – you want to play games that you're equipped to win. He said, "B, you have to be really interested in it." So, I think one of the things just regular investors need to be aware of is, "How much passion do I have for this thing?" If you really do have passion for it and you have a temperament for it, I think you can be enormously successful. I think of my late uncle who just did great just picking his own stocks. He made a fortune doing it. It is possible.
Dan Ferris: Yes, it is. I'm glad you mention Peter Lynch because, like Eveillard, Lynch owned a lot of stocks when he was running the Magellan Fund. Like at one point, I think he said he had 1,400 stocks in that fund. He'd buy a smattering of banks and a smattering of various clothing manufacturers, all kinds of things. Then he would trim them and increase positions. That's how he got to 29% a year. I think it was for 13 years.
William Green: Yeah. I wonder if what conclusions we should draw from that. Because it is possible that he was just kind of, to some degree, without being pejorative about it, he was kind of a freak of nature. I remember Bill Ruane, this great investor who Buffett said – when Buffett closed down his limited partnerships, he said, "I'm not going to manage money for a while. If you want to invest, invest with my friend, Bill Ruane." Ruane proceeded to crush the market by thousands of percentage points over the next decade. So, he's a great investor.
He said to me, "The only investor I've ever met who can do really well owning a lot of stocks is Peter Lynch." Ruane's thought was, what he wanted to do, was to know an enormous amount about seven or eight companies. He said, "If I have high confidence in the fact that I have a competitive advantage in a certain stock because I just know more, I have an informational advantage, or I have this temperamental ability to buy it when nobody else will, I'm perfectly happy to put 15% in that stock."
When I interviewed him, I think he had something like 35% of his portfolio in Berkshire Hathaway. I mean, that's an extraordinarily bold thing to do but sort of the other extreme, and I don't think many of us should do that unless we're as smart and as calm as Ruane. It also helped that Berkshire was incredibly cheap at the time, and that Buffett was one of his closest friends. So, he knew everything about it. So, he said to me, "Look, this is a superior business run by the smartest guy in America, and it's incredibly cheap. So, why wouldn't I put a huge amount of money in it?"
But I think it's somewhere – we want to find a position somewhere between those two extremes. I don't think you want to be as diversified as – even, I think, people who own 100 stocks, I think it's probably – unless they have a very big team, it's very difficult, actually, to know that much about that many businesses. So, it just seems to me more viable to have a portfolio of, say, 40 or 50 stocks. There's a guy I interview, a very interesting guy, Fred Martin, who I write about, who has a basic rule that he never invests more than 3% of his portfolio in one position. He says, "Yeah, I would have –" and then he lets it ride so it can become much bigger. But he typically owns about 45 stocks.
He's someone who actually, when he came out of Dartmouth business school, he went and became a lieutenant on a destroyer. I think when he was about 24, was the youngest guy cleared for command at sea. This is during the Vietnam War. At exactly the same time, the month that he started, he saw this other destroyer, where these two lieutenants, who were very inexperienced, were in charge while the captain was asleep. They made a mistake. Didn't look where they were turning, and the ship got cut in two, and 74 people died. So, he just has this obsession with survival and avoiding catastrophe.
So, over something like that 40 years, he's done incredibly well and has beaten the market by a mile, but he's also just avoided disaster. So, I think his belief is that you want to have kind of systematic rules that protect you from your own stupidity and overconfidence and ego. So, one of his systematic rules is, "Let me not put more than 3% of my money in any new stock at the purchase price." So, I think, for most of us, if we have a few rules that are approximately right and that suit our temperament, and if we actually write them down, it's very helpful because then that becomes your operating manual, in a sense.
During times when everything is out of whack and, say, other people are doing much better than you by behaving stupidly and taking wild risk, you can look at this operating manual and say, "Well, these are my principles, and this is why I act this way." Likewise, when the market gets crushed, you can look at your principles and say, "Oh, well, I know that this is the reason why I need to stay in the market. I know that I should sally. I know that I should try to buy more when the market's getting crushed." So, I think just writing down what you believe and making sure that your principles are pretty robust and based on a good understanding of the underlying rules of investing, that's a very helpful approach for all of us, I think.
Dan Ferris: I think we should tell our listener, the book – your new book is called Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World's Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life. I have a little, almost a technical question about the book. Due to my current situation, we're in between homes and our new one isn't built yet and we're out of the old one and we've got too many addresses. So, I don't have a hard copy of the book, which I prefer hard copies, usually. So, I'm reading on Kindle. I don't find a table of contents. Is that an oversight or did you do that on purpose?
William Green: No, no. There is a table of contents.
Dan Ferris: OK, I'm just missing it.
William Green: I don't know why that wouldn't have come through on Kindle. It's funny. Someone was saying today that they've been listening on Audible and that they love the audio version. But I do think there's an advantage. I love the audio version as well, but I think there's an advantage of having a hard copy and just trying to go through and underline the hell out of lots of different things, because I'm distilling a lot of lessons from people like Sir John Templeton or Jack Bogle or Peter Lynch or Will Danoff or Bill Miller, these great investors that I've interviewed. I think it's helpful. I do think it's weirdly helpful to have the hardback copy.
I mean one of the things that you end up realizing, I think, when you go through and you kind of try to synthesize this stuff, which I'm trying to do for myself but also for readers, is the underlying rules of investing are actually pretty simple. So, some of them, like Joel Greenblatt, who is the guy I mentioned before who beat the market massively, averaged 40% a year for 20 years, which basically means you turn $1 million into $836 million, he's taught at Columbia Business School for maybe 20 years. He's written these terrific books about investing. One of them is The Little Book That Still Beats the Market.
What he said to me is, "When you really reduce investing to its absolute essence, basically it's this. It's 'figure out what something is worth and pay a lot less.'" So, for me, this process that he's gone through – to kind of synthesize what the rules of investing are and what I've gone through to kind of synthesize it so I can share these lessons with readers – is incredibly helpful.
There's a great investor I write about, a hedge-fund manager called Mohnish Pabrai, who's the subject of the first chapter. What Mohnish said to me is, "It's amazing to realize that you're playing against all of these people who actually don't know the rules of the game, that they're just totally ignorant of the rules of the game." He said, "Even when I look around at these other fund managers," he said, "They have no idea what they're doing." He said, "They'll own 200 stocks, and they overpay for them. They'll pay 30 times earnings for a stock, for example, and they trade too often, so they do too much." He's a very colorful guy. He's like, "I would just see that they're all hosed."
So, his view is, the first thing you want to do is actually understand these basic laws of investing, which is, as he sees it, were basically revealed by Buffett and Munger. The simplicity of just knowing that, as Joel Greenblatt says, the entire mission is basically to value companies and buy them for less. It sounds so simple, but actually it's an incredibly powerful idea.
So, I would really encourage people to read through the book and think about, "OK, what do I truly believe after seeing what these guys say works? What do I believe firmly enough that I'm going to stick with it through thick and thin so that during the periods where it's not working and where I feel stupid, or where I see that other people are paying way more for businesses than I think is sensible or they're chasing after fads," you can look and say, "Well, here's why I don't chase after fads, and here's why I try to be countercyclical and buy things that everyone else hates." It's just really useful, I think, that process of synthesis and distillation. I think that's probably been the most helpful thing for me in writing the book is to be forced to distill this stuff and say, "OK, what – when you really try to reduce this to its essence, what are the rules of the game?"
Dan Ferris: Right. Greenblatt, as you pointed out, I believe he's – of all the really great investors who do a fair amount of writing, to me, he's the best writer of them all. He writes in such a plain, simple style. It's not technical at all. By the time you get to the end of it, he's sort of – he's told you a story, especially in the book you mentioned, The Little Book That Still Beats the Market.
William Green: Yeah, he's a wonderful writer. There's a great line from him that I quote a lot where he says, "If you buy stocks without knowing what you're looking for," he said, "It's like having a lit match and running through a dynamite factory." He said, "You may still survive, but you're still an idiot." So, he's funny. I mean he's stylish in his writing, and he's clever. He has this incredible ability to simplify. So, that book, The Little Book That Still Beats the Market, he actually wrote for his kids. He has five children. What he was trying to do is explain to them, "Look, if you can consistently buy things that are the cheap companies that are good businesses, you win over time. You can beat all of these really sophisticated people who are actually in this business professionally."
So, he actually found these two metrics that I write about at length in the book that are basically kind of proxies for, "Is a stock cheap," and "Is a business good?" Then he just keeps applying those principles again and again. So, the difficulty, which I write about at length in that chapter, is that it turns out temperamentally and emotionally and psychologically to be incredibly difficult to keep buying cheap and good businesses. So, what he found – he actually set up what he called the "benevolent" brokerage firm, that basically picked a bunch of these companies that fit these two metrics.
What he found is that when he looked at people's portfolios and he let some people kind of pick from the list themselves, what he found is they squandered something like 25 percentage points just by making their own decisions. Because when a company was really cheap, it looked so toxic. It had had terrible news and they couldn't bring themselves to buy it. Those companies tended to do really well afterward. When companies were more expensive, they were like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, let me have that" because it looked like a better business.
So, even the knowledge that you want to buy cheap and good businesses may not help you if you don't have the temperament to actually – to grit your teeth and say, "Well, yeah, this thing looks really awful, but it's so cheap. I'm going to buy it anyway." That's the advantage that he has is he's just quietly dispassionate. He believes strongly enough in these simple principles. So, he can stick with it through thick and thin.
Dan Ferris: Yeah. Anybody can observe that phenomenon. They can go to his website about the "Magic Formula," which is what he calls those metrics. You can type into the Magic Formula the screener, whatever your parameters are, and it spits out a list of stocks. You just look one by one, and you hardly want to own any of them. You just look at the whole list and you go, "You're kidding me. This is the Magic Formula list?"
William Green: Yeah. And then you start to say to yourself, "What if it doesn't work anymore? What if this used to be a good strategy? What if everybody else is doing it so the opportunity has been arbitraged away?" So, there are all of these things that start to prey on you, that get you to say, "Oh, no, I don't fancy that." So, I mean what he said to me is, "Thank God it's so difficult because the fact that it's so difficult, emotionally, is precisely what provides us with the opportunity to outperform, because almost nobody else can do it.
So, I try to explain the traits that he embodies that I think you need to be a great investor. As I saw it, I think he has this kind of cold rationality, tremendous independence of mind. He's got guts. He's got these sturdy principles that he believes in through thick and thin. He's super competitive, very disciplined, even-tempered, patient. So, when I look at a list of traits like that, I have probably about three of them. OK, so I can be independent, and I can be patient, and I'm competitive. But I'm not coldly rational, and I'm not that even-tempered, and I believe in these principles pretty strongly, but not as strongly as he does.
So, just that self-knowledge of knowing, "Well, I'm patient enough that I can own Guy Spier's fund for 20 years," and I regard it as a 40-year investment. So, even if it underperforms for two or three years or five years or whatever, I'm like, "No, the process makes sense. So, I'll stick with it." But I'm not patient enough, perhaps, to buy the most toxic stock that works terribly for five years. I don't know that I have that temperament.
Dan Ferris: Yeah, not many people do. William, we have been talking for quite some time. I want to thank you for being here. But I do have one more question for you. It's the same question, the same final question that I ask every guest on the show. That is, "If you could leave our listeners with a single thought today –" I know, one single thought – let's just get it out of the way. Buy the book, because it's really great and you'll get a lot of insight to a lot of famous investors. I've written down all the names you said. I think we've mentioned 14 of them, today, alone. Aside from "buy the book," what single thought – if you could leave our listeners with just a single thought today, what would it be?
William Green: I think one of the most powerful ideas that I got from working on this book was from Charlie Munger, who, as I explain in the book, is one-half of the greatest investment duo of all time. He's worked with Buffett for more than 40 years. He's 97 years old and he's a genius. The thing that he does that I think is the thought I'd like to leave your listeners with is he focuses immensely on reducing what he calls standard stupidities.
So, instead of trying to be smarter, he's going through his life saying, "What are the forms of foolish thinking, idiotic behavior and," as he calls it, "unoriginal error that get people in trouble?" His view is if you live a long life and you systematically reduce these mistakes, these standard stupidities, you're so far ahead of the game.
So, I think, for all of us, we should go through our portfolios, our investment history and say, "All right, what are the dumb things that I'm inclined to do? Do I chase after fads? Do I buy things that I don't understand? Do I get overemotional? Do I panic at the worst time? Do I invest in things where I have no competitive advantage? Do I overdiversify? Am I overconcentrated? These things that get people in trouble again and again and reduce those things.
So, look at your portfolio and say, "Where am I vulnerable? Where am I exposed because I'm not taking these principles seriously enough? Maybe I'm investing in an area of the market that's really overheated. Or as Munger said to me, one thing he sees people do repeatedly is buy stocks at the top of the cycle that are cyclical, assuming that somehow, it's going to continue. So, this is a standard stupidity, right, to assume that whatever's happened most recently is going to continue to happen. So, if bitcoin is surging, it must continue to surge. If Tesla is surging, it must continue to surge. No. That's a standard stupidity. They may continue to surge, but you need to be very skeptical about whatever's working.
So, this approach of going through your life and saying, "Let me just be really aware of the standard stupidities that have gotten me in trouble in the past and have gotten other people in trouble, and let me reduce my exposure to them," is really helpful. What Munger does is he says, "Let me imagine a terrible outcome, then think about the dumb actions that would lead to that outcome, and then avoid them." That's also a really, really powerful approach to life.
So, if you think about the ways in which friends of yours or people you've read about have messed up their lives, you think about being dishonest or fiddling with their expenses or cheating on their taxes or cheating on their spouse or lying to their boss or whatever it is. You think of all of these disastrous moves that people think, and then you just think, "OK, so maybe I'm not the most brilliant person. Maybe I'm not the most talented person. Maybe I'm not the smartest. But if I can systematically reduce the things that mess up most of us, I would be so far ahead of the game that things are likely to turn out well."
I think that's a beautiful and very practical approach to life that can keep a lot of us out of trouble. One of the things that Munger would do – he gave this famous speech to a high school once where his kids went. He said to them, instead of giving this commencement speech that gave them all of these kinds of banal rules for how to be successful, he said, "Let me give you a prescription for guaranteed misery in life."
So, he lists all of these things like, "OK, so be unreliable. Be an alcoholic. Ingest chemicals," as he put it. "Don't learn from other people's mistakes. Stay down after every setback." He said, "Those are things that are bound to lead you a terrible, miserable fate." So, what he's doing there is basically saying, "Well, so these are the things you want to avoid in life."
So, I think this idea of focusing systematically on reducing standard stupidities is a beautiful and profound and practical solution for all of us. I write about this in a chapter that I called somewhat impertinently, "Don't Be a Fool." I actually think it's much easier not to be a fool than to be a genius. So, I'm never going to be as smart as Munger. He's probably got an extra 70 IQ points. But I can certainly learn from him about what not to do. That turns out to be really surprisingly effective.
Dan Ferris: Excellent. Systematically reduce the standard stupidities. That's a great one. Well, William, thank you for being here. I know that our listeners have learned a lot, and they're probably Googling all these 14 or 15 names of great investors, and they're probably looking for your book right now, too.
William Green: Yeah, they don't need to Google them. Look it up in my book. Then, please, reach out to me. If your listeners want to contact me, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter or – I think I'm @williamgreen72 at Twitter. So, if you have questions about the book or other things that you should read or things that have resonated for you, I'm – as I said at the start, I'm not a great investor myself. I'm on this journey myself and I'm just trying to share and distill and synthesize the best ideas here. So, if there are things that you think I should be reading or thinking about or people I should be interviewing, please let me know. I hope that this is the beginning of a continued conversation with your audience.
Dan Ferris: Oh, absolutely. You will definitely be invited back someday. I promise.
William Green: Thank you. I look forward to it. Bye.
Dan Ferris: Wow, that was really cool. I wrote down – there was like 15 different great investors. I think he's met just about all of them and interviewed all of them at one point or another. The book is really interesting. I definitely recommend it. Wow, OK. Let's do the mailbag.
There's an important message Dr. Ron Paul believes is lost on those who are listening to the mainstream narrative. He says no matter how you look at it, he believes the government has used the COVID crisis to gain even more power and control over our lives. It's true. The past year's relief efforts have cost taxpayers $6 trillion. That's more than eight times FDR's New Deal after the Great Depression.
These decisions could not just affect the money you've spent your whole career saving, they could also disrupt your current source of income. Dr. Paul recently helped put together a short video presentation that explains the number one first step every American should take to prepare for what's coming next. You can watch for free online by visiting messagefromron.com. Again, that website is messagefromron.com
In the mailbag each week, you and I have an honest conversation about investing or whatever is on your mind. Just send your questions, comments, and politely worded criticisms, please, to [email protected] I read as many e-mails as time allows, and I respond to as many as possible. You could also call us at our listener feedback line, 800-381-2357. Tell us what's on your mind.
It was kind of light in the mailbag this week, folks. I really only found one that I wanted to deal with and respond to. It was very good, though. Frederick S. wrote in. Frederick, you're a very reasonable fellow, and I appreciate that because I'm not always. I can get a little worked up. So, I appreciate people like you. I won't read your whole e-mail, but I'll read some good portions of it here.
You start it off, "I do enjoy your show. I'm very impressed with the quality of your guests." Thanks. "I think you should read How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, by Bill Gates. You have stated multiple times that you are skeptical that there is a climate crisis. As an engineer and physicist, I think that you are wrong, but I won't try and convince you otherwise. You aren't expected to have an opinion because you aren't a scientist, but you are an investment advisor. As such, you do need to be concerned with what the market believes."
He said a bunch of stuff about that. Then sort of concluded, "You just need to recognize that the market, consumers, companies, and governments believe this is important and that they will drive major investments in new technologies and major changes in regulations that will greatly influence the success of future companies and even countries. You might invite Bill Gates for an interview. He would probably be fun to talk to. Frederick S."
So, if I wanted to invite Bill Gates, which I really don't – I've criticized him so many times on Twitter, he probably hates me. He probably doesn't think anything about me. I doubt he's even noticed because he's just so famous and so many people are talking about him. He probably doesn't care at all. But eh, probably not my style anyway. I think he's one of these people who strikes me as a little too enamored of his intellect. I have no doubt he's a very bright guy. He's done great. He did a great thing with Microsoft. Let's not get ahead of ourselves and claim that you're Mr. How-To-Avoid-Climate-Disaster.
As you say, the book focuses more on technologies. It doesn't focus on whether or not there is a disaster. I think it's a little silly to – most people don't know that even the government – the U.S. government puts out these things and they've acknowledged in their documents, the temperature change we expect over the next 50 years is probably insignificant. If you read through all the official government stuff and all the IPC stuff and all of it, you realize that the hysterical climate crisis, "It's an emergency, we have to shut down all the coal plants and stop using fossil fuels right now," you realize that's all nonsense. As an engineer and physicist, you should realize that because it's not hard to figure out.
But you are right. You nailed the conclusion here, Frederick. You nailed it. You're absolutely right. In the newsletter I write, at any rate – I won't speak for anyone else at Stansberry – but we have a whole company in there that does nothing but finance renewable energy companies. So, that is its thing. There are various other angles on that in other stocks that we've recommended in the Extreme Value newsletter. We're aware of it.
I agree, you have to be aware of it. You can't say, "Well, I think it's stupid. Therefore, I'm never going to buy anything related to people who are trying to address climate change through their business." I think that's – you're passing up opportunities there. I think the one that we have in Extreme Value that's devoted to financing renewable energy companies looks to me like it could be the next Franco Nevada. It's an amazing business. But yes, I agree with you Frederick, totally, except for having Bill Gates on the show.
Recently, you'll see things in the news now and then about how this impacts real businesses. There was an article on CNN on Tuesday. The article was titled, "The World's Largest Jewelry Brand Is Ditching Mined Diamonds." Now, this is, of course, a different type of an environmental argument, right? They don't want to foul the environment by digging holes in the ground and looking for diamonds and creating all the toxic effects of mining. So, they are – it's the company Pandora. Pandora produces more jewelry than any other company in the world. Probably didn't know that.
Tuesday, they announce this huge change where they're shifting toward the use of basically diamonds that you create in the labs. They have all the same chemical and physical and thermal and optical – physical characteristics that you can see with the naked eye. They're all graded on the same four Cs that diamonds are graded on – cut, color, clarity, and carat. So, they're going to phase out the use of mined diamonds. They're also environmentally friendly, so they say, because they're made with at least 60% renewable energy, on average, Pandora says.
So, all this use of renewable energy and things like these not wanting to sell mined diamonds, you only do that when you know that there is demand in the marketplace. You don't just shove your politics down your customer's throat because they don't care. But if there's real demand for people to be more responsible in this way, let's say, then it's a good business practice to meet that demand. That happens, right?
I mean China and India aren't worried about the environment so much. But as they get wealthier, of course, they will. We are, the United States is a wealthy country. Europe is wealthy. So, we're all thinking about this stuff a lot more than poorer countries. It's just the way of things. It develops over time. As the world becomes a wealthier and wealthier place in general, we'll think more and more about this stuff.
Good point, Frederick. Very good point. Don't let me just rant and rave and not point out that I might be missing something. Good idea. So, that's our only mailbag question this week. That's the mailbag.
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