Almost Two Decades Ago, Investors Were Pretty Full Of Themselves

Good morning.

Almost two decades ago, investors were pretty full of themselves … as many stocks were soaring … and television was ripe with commercials touting how anyone (including an island-owning tow truck driver) could make millions just by doing something as simple as picking stocks. Sports bars had scrolling stock prices on the televisions and almost every conversation led toward the money-making idea of the day … make that … of the hour.

Interestingly, a voice questioned the run-up in tech stocks … Warren Buffett … who told investors to be careful. And what did he get in return? Articles in magazines such as Barron’s asking (1998): “What’s Wrong, Warren” … and Bloomberg and Forbes both asking (1999) “Has Buffett Lost His Touch?” … and MarketWatch giving the opinion that “Mr. Buffett Has No Clothes.”

Not only did Mr. Buffett end up looking pretty snazzy in his outfit, but hindsight allowed many pundits to reestablish him as the greatest investor of our time.

But lessons are easily forgotten and I noticed comments by the 37 year-old CEO of Betterment advising us that Warren Buffett’s advice “doesn’t work anymore.” While I like and applaud what his firm has accomplished, I wouldn’t be so fast to announce myself as discounting advice given by “The Oracle of Omaha.” When those previous articles panning Mr. Buffett were written, this CEO was working at the Dunster Grill in his ungraduated house at Harvard. Maybe he somehow missed reading about that other time this legend’s advice was ridiculed.

Today is a very special day … as it is National Pancake Day … and I certainly know where I will be at lunchtime!

What IHOP is doing is giving people a free stack of pancakes and asking, in return … with no obligation … a donation toward some very important charities (including Shriners, Children’s Miracle Network and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). Heck, even if you don’t need the pancakes (and few of us really do) just stopping by and making a donation could help. And you might think a couple of dollars won’t matter much … but realize it might help make one child’s life brighter for even a few moments … and that, in itself, is worth all the money (or flapjacks) in the world.

Of course, just thinking about Pancake Day, leads to one very important question.

When is beer day?

Joseph G. Witthohn, CFA
Vice President
Emerald Asset Management
610 Freedom Business Center Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
(610) 337-9230 ext. 6

A Quick Look at the News
March 7, 2017

Joseph G. Witthohn, CFA |

… as of 9:39 AM today …

Think the market has gotten a bit ahead of itself so far this year? If you do, you would be joining a host of hedge fund managers who are positioning themselves for – what they see as – rough waters ahead (Bloomberg)

… and in rough times, people look toward advice from an experienced hand … and in the U.S. that typically means Warren Buffett. But one person claims his advice doesn’t work anymore. Someone with limited experience (CNBC)

The U.S. has been having a tough time of it in other areas … as its ranking as best country in the world has fallen a few places. Maybe I’ll go visit my friend Janine in Canada. Today’s her birthday (USAToday)

One of the highest costs of the future will, of course, be health care … but it is not cancer that might be the source of our country’s financial woes … it is Alzeheimers … and the growth is staggering (CNN)

How can you reduce traffic jams? Guess what? Drive slower. Keeping a steady pace can help with traffic flow and help avoid the congestion many of us see during our daily commute (Joelcomm)

… but this little problem might take care of itself in a few years … if self-driving cars hit the roads. Think it is a long way away? California is already experimenting with buses (Reuters)

… but this means, of course, there might be no need at all for a bus driver … as automation may reduce employment not only on the manufacturing line, but behind the wheel as well (CNBC)

… yet we might think this doesn’t really affect us … if we are not in the transport industry … but it does affect us greatly … as very few jobs appear to be safe from the move towards robots (NYPost)

There is one bright note for today … as it is National Pancake Day! This means I will break off my one-day diet at lunch time and hop over to IHOP to celebrate. (Time)

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