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Posted April 11, 2024

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Market Wizards’ Humor

Since the world is getting serious, I thought we’d lighten things up for this Friday.

Here are my top 10 favorite Wall Street sayings. Some are funny, and some are wise.

“If it flies, floats, or f*cks, it’s cheaper to rent.” - Marc Rich.

This quote is easily my favorite. I’m devastated that no one told me this before I got married.

If you ask any plane owner, yacht owner, or married man, they’ll tell you the same thing: there are some things in life that you should rent.

“Took the anti-money laundering training. I suddenly have so many side hustle ideas.” - @overheardonwallstreet.

How ironic.

One of my human resources friends once told me, “The only thing unconscious bias training does is increase conscious bias.” In some parts of the world, sex education increases teenage pregnancy rates.

So when I came across this quote, I laughed my ass off. It made complete sense to me.

If someone teaches you all about money laundering, you’ll see ways to launder your own money, right?

I was just conversing with my mother about moving her money around when she moved to Italy, but my mother’s money is completely clean. Still, moving it from account to account worldwide is similar to how money launderers move cash themselves.

"Wall Street is the only place people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway." - Warren Buffett.

I first tell private banking graduates never to tell their clients that they will increase their wealth.

They protect their wealth and assets, put their money into suitable investments, minimize clients’ tax liabilities, help clients create succession plans, and show clients how to give their money away to charity.

That’s it. Forget about increasing clients’ wealth. The clients already know how to do that.

“A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.” - Barton Biggs.

As the night is darkest before dawn, the market is the most euphoric right before it crashes. We’ve seen this many times, most notably in 1999, right before the March 2000 NASDAQ crash. 

The market was positively screaming from 1997 onwards. Most people thought the NASDAQ was a high-yield savings account.

It was embarrassing following that rally. The NASDAQ fell from March 2000 until the end of 2003, going from 5,000 to 1,100 points, a nearly 80% drop. Many people don’t remember that because they were either born too late or were there and don’t want to remember.

“Given a 10% chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time.” - Jeff Bezos.

This is an excellent saying because it helps one distinguish between probability and expectation.

Most people would look at this and say, “If I only have a 10% chance of making money, why bother?”

But if you have a 10% chance to make 100x your money, your expectation or expected value is a 10x gain (10% x 100x).

A 10x gain: that’s why you should take that bet every time.

“Picking bottoms gets you smelly fingers.” - Unknown.

I can’t remember where I heard this, but it’s true: Nobody has ever picked a bottom. No one knew March 2009 would be the bottom of the market. That’s why it’s essential to remain somewhat invested at all times: No one can pick tops or bottoms.

“God created economists to make weathermen look good.” - Unknown.

Another example illustrates that economists cannot predict anything. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve looked at a January forecast where not a single economist was even close to where interest rates would end up on December 31. It’s embarrassing. Why bother?

“There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don’t know, and those who don’t know they don’t know.” - John Kenneth Galbraith.

Galbraith hit the nail on the head with this one.

There is no shame in not knowing. Most of us don’t know. Of course, when I write the Rude, I want to be as truthful in the present as possible. 

And yes, I look forward to using technical analysis, especially the monthly asset class reports. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. I try to guess what’s going to happen.

Bloggers like Paul Krugman think they know what will happen in the future. His hero is Hari Seldon of Asimov’s Foundation series. He joined the economic profession to try to predict the future. He is atrocious at it.

Krugman is the perfect example of an economist who doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.

“It's not whether you're right or wrong that's important, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong.” - George Soros.

Before becoming Emperor Palpatine, George Soros was the greatest trader God ever made.

He was a wunderkind, an incredible economist with outstanding macroeconomic knowledge. 

Soros broke the Bank of England in 1992, throwing the UK out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism that would have brought the UK into the Eurozone. Quite frankly, I thought The Queen should’ve knighted him for that. To this day, if you mention Soros’ name to anyone who works at the Bank of England, they will break out into hives.

Soros is exactly right about this, though. If you take many small wins and then suffer one colossal loss, you will have a negative return on your portfolio.

But you will be okay if you win huge, even once, and suffer many small losses. This is the one bit of advice from George Soros I want you to take.

“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.” - Peter Thiel.

There are many reasons to like Peter Thiel. He’s intelligent, an excellent investor, and a genuine insider. He was one of the first and only people from the Left Coast to support Donald Trump.

He is correct about thinking for oneself. Thinking is challenging, which is why nobody wants to do it. Figuring things out on your own is tricky, so masterminds are essential.

That’s why learning from YouTube videos is essential. You can create your path by learning how to think on your own.

Wrap Up

Thank you for indulging me in this catharsis.

I hope you learned something and had a laugh along the way.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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