There was no mistaking the Texan at Grayt Coffee Shop. The SUV out front with Dallas-area plates hinted one was lurking. Texas, particularly Houston, is my favorite foreign county and no passport is required. Sherry’s staff professionally waited on me while I took a seat and lent this big talking Texan an ear. Little did I know Larry McMurtry's canny observation, “Dallas is a second-rate city that thinks it’s first rate,” would prove perceptive rather quickly
“Everythang's rigged. Remember back in the tech bubble. I loaded up on technology stocks. Ya know Michael Dell started building computers in his dorm room in Austin. I bought some Dell and buncha others on margin from my broker, dadgum him. Anyhow, I started gettin’ margin calls and had to sell on the way down. Lost my shirt.”
Being charitable and cautious, I kept quiet, got another cup of coffee and bought a sausage biscuit. I texted Susan I would be a few minutes late.
He started again “To heck with stocks, you can’t trust Wall Street. I heard about all the money people were making flipping condos and lots in Florida and that worked good for awhile. My buddy told me about 1031 exchanges so I wouldn’t have to pay any taxes. The banks loaned me money with nothing down but by 2009 I owed more on the lots and condos than they were worth. They took ‘em from me. I still have some lots up in Freeport. Wanna buy ‘em?”
This is getting interesting, but sad.
“Darn bankers ought be in jail. It ain’t right."
He makes a good point. Generally speaking, the financial masters of the universe made out just fine. Banks too big to fail socialize risk and privatize profits; it’s good work if you can get it.
He continued. “After I saved up a little money, the only safe place to be was gold. I heard on Fox News the global financial system is totally wrecked. Glenn Beck said budget deficits are out of control, central banks are printing money like crazy and it looks like socialism is takin’ over.
"They’re riotin’ in Europe and who knows what the Sam Hill is going on in Japan. So I go all in on gold at $1,800 an ounce. Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s high but now the Fed’s killin’ me. Supposedly the Fed wants to force unemployment down with low interest rates but it’s hammerin’ gold prices. Abolish the Fed.”
I gave in and leaned over to him. “Excuse me, sir. I couldn’t help but hear your conversation. Have you thought about using index funds? A diversified portfolio of stock and bond index funds had a decent return from 1999.”
“Index funds,” he snorted, “partner, they’re for folks who don’t know nothin’ about investin’."
“Have a nice day, enjoy your vacation,” I said and headed for the door.
You can lead a horse to water … For the record, a 60 perent stock, 40 percent bond portfolio returned over 7 percent annually since 1999. Abolishing the Fed, doofus, would trigger a global economic crisis.
Nothing against Texas — my grandbaby is a future Miss Texas — but I would rather see her walk across the stage degree in hand from Texas Tech’s Financial Planning program, the country’s best.
Buz Livingston, CFP, has the only investment management firm in the entire world headquartered in Blue Mountain Beach, Florida. He helps clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast and around the country with financial decisions. For more information, call 850-267-1068 or visit www.livingstonfinancial.net. For timely financial tweets follow @BuzLivingston.