Recently by Richard Russell: USD OMG
Here’s something they won’t tell you at your local brokerage office or in the "How to Beat the Market" books. All investing and speculation is basically an exercise in attempting to beat time.
"Russell, what are you talking about?"
Just what I said – when you try to pick the winning stock or when you try to sell out near the top of a bull market or when you try in-and-out trading, you may not realize it but what you’re doing is trying to beat time.
Time is the single most valuable asset you can ever have in your investment arsenal. The problem is that none of us has enough of it.
But let’s indulge in a bit of fantasy. Let’s say you have 200 years to live, 200 years in which to invest. Here’s what you could do. You could buy $20,000 worth of municipal bonds yielding say 5.5%.
At 5.5% money doubles in 13 years. So here’s your plan – each time your money doubles you add another $10.000. So at the end of 13 years you have $40,000 plus the $10,000 you’ve added, meaning that at the end of 13 years you’d have $50,000.
At the end of the next 13 years you have $100,000, you add $10,000 and then you’d have $110,000. You reinvest it all in 5.5% munis and at the end of the next 13 years you’d have $220,000 and you add $10,000 making it $230,000.
At the end of the next 13 years you’d have $460,000 and you add $10,000 making it $470,000.
In 200 years there are 15.3 doubles. You do the math. By the end of the 200th year you wouldn’t know what to do with all your money. It would be coming out of your ears. And all with minimum risk.
So with enough time, you would be rich – guaranteed. You wouldn’t have to waste any time picking the right stock or the right group or the right mutual fund. You would just compound your way to riches, using your greatest asset – time.
There’s only one problem: In the real world you’re not going to live 200 years. But if you start young enough or if you start your kids early, you or they might have anywhere from 30 to 60 years of time ahead of you.
Because most people have run out of time, they spend endless hours and nervous energy trying to beat time, which, by the way, is really what investing is all about. Pick a stock that advances from 3 to 100 and if you’ve put enough money in that stock you’ll have beaten time. Or join a company that gives you a million options and your option moves up from 3 to 25 and again you’ve beaten time.
How about this real example of beating time – John Walter joined AT&T, but after nine short months he was out of a job. The complaint was that Walter "lacked intellectual leadership." Walter got $26 million for that little stint in a severance package. That’s what you call really beating time. Of course, a few of us might have another word for it – and for AT&T.
Reprinted with permission from Dow Theory Letters.