The Best Investing Advice Has Always Been Too Boring for TV

There’s no particular reason, other than curiosity, for ordinary investors to examine the stock market’s performance more than once or twice a year—plenty of evidence indicates that it’s incredibly difficult to hand-pick stocks or time the market. This finding might bruise some egos, but it’s actually great news. It should free up any time spent scrutinizing the market for more rewarding endeavors. That’s precisely the message the financial media ought to send in turbulent times, when ordinary investors are most tempted to engage in panic-selling—or alternatively, trying to be clairvoyant in timing global-securities markets. The truth is that the same boring index funds that made sense last month, last year, and five years ago still make sense today.

Unfortunately, there’s one huge problem associated with this valuable message: No one would be excited to watch a business-news show or to buy a financial magazine that continually reminded them to simply invest in low-fee index funds. No advertiser is excited about it, either—who would want to advertise stock-market newsletters, commodity futures, or actively-managed mutual funds on programs that constantly remind viewers that these goods and services should be shunned?

Dispensing dicey stock-market advice provides a much better financial model for business media, if not for viewers.

.. This message was that the smart investor is someone who can pick a good stock in a good company that makes good products. This thinking reflected the era, in which many investment experts suggested that smart consumers were capable of recognizing good companies as they encountered them in everyday life. As the renowned investor Peter Lynch famously phrased it, “Invest in what you know.” In my view, such messages are deeply misleading: Ordinary investors are ill-equipped to evaluate the numerous aspects of corporate performance that have nothing to do with the everyday consumer experience.

Strange Bedfellows: The Evangelical Right and Trump

I have worked on a post for the Jesus Creed on this very question. I forget where I read it, but one of the best, if not the best, predictor of support for Trump is the hours spent listening to conservative political radio. This isn’t really about politics. It’s much more serious than that. It’s about spiritual formation. God help us.

The reality is that Trump talks and acts the way that the political info-tainers do (and have done for years). The base that listens to political radio and TV have been groomed (formed), in many cases hours a day for over a decade, to love what Trump is and does. Anyone who does serious work in formation could not be surprised by the rise of Trump in an era in which conservative radio has remade the GOP base in its image. Sorry, Church, your once or twice a week interactions are no match, even if the preacher was offering a fundamentally different tenor or content.

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Love of one’s enemies is not something you’ll get from political radio. Anger is. Brash rudeness is. Disrespect of others is. Conservative radio isn’t filled with people who make their gentleness evident to all, and bad company has corrupted good character. We are reaping what we have sown. For some of us, the teachers to whom we listen most have been Rush and Beck and others. We have been fully trained and have become like our teachers.

.. Derek may be on to something! Evangelicals are used to spending an hour a week being preached at by a confident, charismatic personality with all the answers. Who else besides Trump in the GOP field fits that description?

.. These same Christians, always on the lookout for someone willing to stand up for God, have found even better in Trump: Someone who’s willing to stand in the place of God.

He’s everything a God should be. He agrees with them, he gives them permission to confidently affirm their beliefs and desires (whether sinful or not), he openly antagonizes their enemies so as not to make them feel guilty for not loving them, and he requires, in exchange, nothing more from them than a statement of support. He’s the ideal candidate for the person who shows up late to church, sneaks out before the end of the sermon, and spends the rest of the week boasting about their love of God. That is to say, he’s the ideal candidate for a huge number of Americans.