Bruce begins by asking John what his company does, and who his typical client is. John helps investors find investment managers that will work best for them.
John has a new series of books called “Eavesdropping on Millionaires.” Bruce asks John what has surprised him most about wealthy individuals. John says that he was surprised by how many of them felt a need to be in the market, and how many of them have rode the market all the way to the bottom. They did not have a sense of preservation. They did not understand they had won the race, and that they could stop running. They could have lived a comfortable lifestyle, but they continued to invest, and they have lost a large amount of their net worth. This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. From here we are creating a new “normal.” This time it really is different. We’re watching a new generation become frugal. Savings rates are increasing from 0% to 5%.
Bruce asked John if it is more painful to go backwards financially then to have never been there before. John thinks that it is. John found some stats from David Rosenberg showing that people 55 years and over have seen an increase in employment. John says that people need to be careful when they are listening to people who are anticipating what will happen in the financial future based on what has happened in the past because the underlying forces in our current market are much different than they were before. Statistics also say that the boomer generation has not accumulated any wealth for 12 to 15 years.
Bruce asked John if most people become millionaires because of earning power or investments. John says that everyone has their own path. A large number of people who become financially successful are good savers. Many of them save 20 percent of their earnings. Most lived a frugal lifestyle and saved diligently. The number of people who made money investing is not as big as you would think. John’s company has surveyed 17,000 people, and they have found that it is harder to become a millionaire through investing than it seems.
Ludwig von Mises once said, “It may sometimes be expedient for a man to heat the stove with his furniture. But he should not delude himself by believing that he has discovered a wonderful new method of heating his premises.” When Bruce looks at how we are solving the crisis that started in 2008, he wonders if we are hurting our future by what we are doing. John thinks that in the short term, the answer is “no” but people disagree with him.
The problem we have started 15 years ago when we started leveraging ourselves and we started selling securitized mortgages that were not going to be paid. We have a certain amount of deleveraging pain that we are going to have to go through in order to get through this problem. We can do it in one year or ten years. One year means 25 percent unemployment and breadline depression. If we work through this problem over 10 years then we will experience slow growth, 10 percent unemployment, and difficulty in recovering the stock market.
John would rather take the longer route. John thinks that the Fed did the right thing by stepping in and putting liquidity into the market. People associate credit with cash which it is not. The level of credit that the world is using is imploding. There is far less credit to finance our future. The Fed can print money right now without creating too much future inflation. Someday they will have to stop and they will.
John thinks that the stimulus package idea was not a bad idea, but the way that we have created it and used it is wrong. We used the stimulus package to finance political objectives rather than actually doing things to stimulate the economy. We are borrowing money that our grandchildren will have to pay instead of building infrastructure they can enjoy.
We are planning on going into debt $1 trillion dollars per year for the next ten years but you cannot finance that much money that quickly; there are not enough takers. We were running a $700 billion dollar trade deficit, but that money came back and was invested in some sort of debt. That allowed us to create a large deficit, but now we only have $300 billion dollars worth of trade debt, which means that we have to go out and find $1.7 trillion dollars of money to buy more bonds. John thinks that we will probably raise taxes.
John says we could suspend all these new projects like healthcare like Republicans but there’s no chance that will happen. If this were the path, the dollar would become stringer but we’d still have to work through deleveraging and the housing problem. But, it doesn’t destroy the dollar. John feels the current administration’s solutions will only work for so long. The bond market will implode eventually if this keeps up and it’s an ugly scenario. If there are a enough democrats that come along that agree that the huge deficits aren’t good, taxes will roll out to keep paying for these programs. As long as the deficit is growing as fast as the nominal GDP.
John thinks out of these scenarios the last solution will result.
Bruce asks John if he thinks that we have seen the bottom of the housing market. John does not think we have. He thinks that housing problems will continue through 2010. We have more foreclosures coming. If you are at the point where you would like to buy a house, this is a great time to do so.
More coming next week. Visit thenorrisgroup.com or John at johnmauldin.com.
John is a Fort Worth, Texas businessman, now living in Uptown Dallas, and the father of seven children, ranging from ages 13 through 30, five of whom are adopted.
He was Chief Executive Officer of the American Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., a publisher of newsletters and books on various investment topics, from 1982 to 1987. He was one of the founders of Adopting Children Together Inc., the largest adoption support group in Texas. He currently serves on the board of directors of The International Reconciliation Coalition and the International Children’s Relief Fund. He is also a member of the Knights of Malta, and has served on the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Texas.
He is a frequent contributor to numerous publications, and guest on TV and radio shows as well as quoted widely in the press.
John is the President of Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC (MWA) which is an investment advisory firm registered in multiple states. John Mauldin is President of Millennium Wave Securities, LLC a FINRA registered broker-dealer. MWS is also a Commodity Pool Operator (CPO) and a Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) registered with the CFTC, as well as an Introducing Broker (IB).