Let’s be totally honest with each other, including all of you out there under the “see no bubbles” influence. If you were to sit down and make a list of things that you never would have believed could happen ten years ago, if you included everything that has gone Alice-in-Wonderland, you’d either get writer’s cramp or carpel tunnel. No interest in doing so? Too time-consuming? Too depressing? Too confusing? Another totally — as in, I get it, so please allow me to take a crack at this exercise.
Ben Horowitz, famed entrepreneur and venture capitalist, once quipped that as a startup CEO he “slept like a baby [because he] woke up every two hours and cried.” As many others at the head of early-stage businesses can attest, Ben isn’t overreaching all that far in his comparison. While many factors play into the often-disrupted sleep patterns of entrepreneurs, perhaps the most jarring is the fact that the vast majority of early-stage companies are destined to flop. Statistically speaking, nine out of ten startups will fail.
Many social commentators, probably rightly, assert that Western culture is in the post-phase: Post-modern, post-religion, post-civility, post-bipartisan, post-patriotic, post-prudence, post-hope, post-tolerance and, perhaps, most inarguably, post-truth. But the “post” that is the topic of this month’s installment of “Bubble 3.0” is based on the thesis that the relatively recent phenomenon of a comfortable retirement is now also increasingly a thing of the past.
In just six months, the Fed went from hiking interest rates to, as of last week, opening the doors for future interest rate cuts. This makes the hike last December look a bit silly given the stock market was in freefall, economic data was deteriorating, and trade tensions were escalating. To make matters worse, President Trump tweeted it is “incredible” that the Fed “is even considering another interest rate hike” before the Fed raised last December. Since then, the Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump has been exceedingly critical with regards to Fed policy and tightening too aggressively. It’s worth noting that almost every other president in history has steered clear of publicly criticizing the Fed, which makes this situation even more precarious and unprecedented.
Being old—like north of 60—doesn’t come with many advantages. However, in the investment game it does have at least one: being “mature” enough to remember past financial and business cycles.