Financial experts: No matter what the market, you should always buy stocks

roulette wheel

According to financial experts, U.S. stocks have nowhere to go but up. (Of course, that’s what they were saying about home prices in 2007, but best not to dwell on that.)

I walked into a local money manager’s office the other day to open an account.

“Do you have an appointment, sir?” the receptionist asked, as I walked past her desk.

I walked into the money manager’s office and sat down at his desk. “Here’s the thing,” I said. “I know you’re a money manager, so you’re probably used to working with clients who, you know, actually have money. And I don’t really have anything to my name except for a worn-out rubber vomit and a pack of gum that shocks you when you try to touch it. But I want to retire someday from this grueling, thankless career of writing comedy, so I need to start investing for the future. Does that make sense?”

The money manager clasped his hands and leaned back in his seat. “You should buy stocks,” he said.

“I’ve never been very good at earning money,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong: I’m a hard worker. I’ve spent my entire life busting butt, trying to get ahead. The problem, I’ve found out, is that hard work has nothing to do with making money. Employers used to covet a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, but now all they seem to want are self-promoting braggarts who mask their incompetence with smooth-sounding babble. And because I was taught to be humble, I tend to labor diligently in the background while the smooth-talking braggarts take all the credit. And then they get all the promotions while I stay at the bottom, working myself to an early grave.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“And I don’t want to end up in an early grave,” I said. “I mean, sure — dying young has its benefits. I wouldn’t have to save so much for the future, because there wouldn’t be much of a future to save toward. And I wouldn’t have move to Florida and start eating dinner at 3 p.m., because who wants to eat dinner that early, anyway? I certainly don’t. I’d end up rummaging through the fridge at 7 p.m. and making a tuna fish sandwich with sardines and mayonnaise. And then I’d wake up at one in the morning with raging heartburn that feels like someone is running a blowtorch up and down your chest. I don’t want that to be my future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But if I do grow old, I need a retirement fund so I can actually buy food,” I said. “I don’t want to be a destitute geriatric with no teeth who gnaws on Alpo while watching Murder, She Wrote reruns. If it gets to that point, a tuna fish sandwich with sardines might be the financial equivalent of eating caviar. Not that I’ve ever eaten caviar. Why would anyone pay so much to eat something so disgusting? I feel the same way about frog legs. Although some people say frog legs taste like chicken. I guess it depends on what kind of chicken. If it tasted like KFC, then I might try it. I like chicken when it’s deep fried, but not so much when it’s baked. Baked chicken might be healthy, but it tends to be chewy and dry, and then it’s about as appetizing as my worn-out rubber vomit.”

I paused for a breath. “As you can tell, I’m not exactly a health nut, which is a personal defect I should address if I’m going to start planning for the future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“I’ve never tried investing before,” I said. “I don’t know anything about money — except that it’s hard to earn and even harder to keep. Whoever said “The buck stops here” obviously has never seen my checking account. The bucks don’t stop because they never arrive in the first place.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“And I don’t know anything about investment or banking terms, either,” I said. “My credit union told me to get a CD, but I told them all my music is in my iTunes library. And then another banker told me I should consider stocks and bonds, but that seemed a little too kinky for a first-time investor like me. What I really need is a trust fund, but no one in my family will trust me with their funds. But how you can you blame them? I’m the type of person who carries around rubber vomit, after all. You never know when you’re going to need it.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“It seems like the only way to make money in today’s economy is to invest in an asset bubble, then pull your money out before it pops,” I said. “Like housing, for instance. According to real-estate professionals, it’s always a great time to buy a home. Are home prices low? Buy a house. Are home prices high? Buy a house. Do you have money to put down? Buy a house. Do you have no money at all and need down-payment assistance? Buy a house. I remember everyone in 2007 was telling me to buy a house. There would never be a better time to buy, all the experts said, because prices were going nowhere but up. And when the bubble popped, and home prices plummeted, the experts once again said there would never be a better time to buy a house. So if you listen to the professionals, anytime is a good time in invest in housing. There’s never not a good time to buy a house.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“So you’ve said.” I looked at the money manager, frowning. “Is that all you say? ‘Buy stocks’? Is that the only piece of financial advice you’ve got to offer?”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But what if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates?” I asked.

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“OK. What if rates remain unchanged — or worse, what if they take rates negative, like Japan? Could that adversely affect my portfolio?”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But is it possible the market is in a bubble? When they raised rates for the first time in seven years in December 2015, the stock market tanked. Then the Fed talked up the market throughout 2016 and threatened to raise rates, but they never actually raised them. That suggests they’re afraid to raise rates because they think there might be a bubble — right?”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But what if—” I asked.

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“OK,” I said, “so let me get this straight. If the Fed raises interest rates, I should buy stocks. If interest rates remain unchanged or go negative, I should buy stocks. If jobs are created and unemployment goes down, I should buy stocks. If no jobs are created and unemployment goes up, I should buy stocks. If fundamentals are strong, I should buy stocks. If fundamentals are weak, I should buy stocks. Is that pretty much the gist of your unparalleled money-management expertise?”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

I folded my arms. “I could pretty much say anything to you right now and get that response, couldn’t I?”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“Your breath smells like a rotten vat of sauerkraut left sitting in the sun in the Arizona desert,” I said.

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“Farts,” I said.

“You should buy stocks.”

“Buffalo farts.”

“Stocks.”

“OK.” I pushed back the chair and stood. “I think we’re done here. Clearly, investing isn’t for me. I’m going to leave the wealth-accumulation game to the already-filthy-rich traders on Wall Street. If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to take my non-existent portfolio and my worn-out rubber vomit and leave.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said, as the door swung shut behind me.

“Oh.” I stuck my head back through the door. “I almost forgot. This is all I have to my name, but you can have it in exchange for your invaluable service.”

I chucked the rubber vomit at the money manager. It hit his head and landed in his lap.

I left before he could tell me to buy stocks.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Financial experts: No matter what the market, you should always buy stocks

Comments are closed.