During my days in financial services we jokingly called Bear Stearns, Bum Stear…little did we know how true that would turn out to be. I also really wanted to work for the venerable investment house in the mid-1980’s. Back then the chairman was Ace Greenberg – he ran a tight ship and was known for his “Paper Clip” memo – basically chastising any employee who wasted firm resources and threw out paper clips. What a difference 20 years makes.
Between this, Eliot Spitzer and countless other recent disappointments, how does one rationalize all this news and move forward with optimism. We all need to wake up and review some general truisms and principles by which to live!! Firstly, if something seems to good to be true (like repackaging crappy mortgages into A or better-rated mortgage-backed securities ) it usually is too good to be true!! Secondly, if you don’t understand it, and big, complex words are used, don’t automatically think you are stupid – it probably isn’t logical so avoid it like the plague. Thirdly, stick to value when investing in stocks, real estate and consumer goods – for stocks look for companies with real year after year earnings and cash flow, for real estate, look to areas that have not been over-developed and locations with few or no foreclosures, and for consumer goods – stick to the basic necessities. And lastly, work hard and stay focused and positive!!