Getting Back to Even

All Time Highs and Getting Back to Even

Getting Back to Even

Investing hasn’t gotten harder; they are just better at confusing you. Investing is easy. When you have money, buy everything and then don’t sell.

With the market at all-time highs, I want to know about getting back to even.

Serendipitously I came upon a copy of Kramer’s Getting Back to Even and had to see if there were any lessons we could learn from 2008. From Kramer. Seriously?

It is a fun read and a cautionary tale of listening to people’s advice. As Sartre says, you pre-select the advice you get depending on whom you ask.

How to Get Back to Even

Kramer suggests you have 5-10 stocks that you spend an hour reviewing per stock per week. You are diversified when you have at least five stocks, but having ten is like a part-time job since you must spend 10 hours a week reviewing the financials and learning all about the corporation.

He says the lost decade (2000-2009) proves that buy and hold doesn’t work. He calls it buy and forget about it because you never look again, so you don’t know when to get out of the market. Does he forget that no one knows when to exit the market?

Instead, he suggests you own GLD. Well, a lot of people say you should own up to 10% gold. Not sure why, but they do. Diversification? Protection? All the above?

Then, you must actively trade your 5-10 positions when they no longer work.

Own “safe” dividened paying stocks. He goes so far as to say that this is the best defense for getting back to even. On offense, of course, you might want to own tech stocks. Like this mobile internet thing, which is a new product cycle. These tech stocks can be “10x tsunamis.” Own:

AAPL – you got to love this, the split-adjusted price of Apple was 3 bucks in 2009.

PALM – Extinct in 2012

RIM – Also extinct.

He got 1/3 right and AAPL is the great success story of the last two decades. But he also suggested bank stocks and deep-in-the-money calls. That’s Kramer’s advice from 2009.


How to Get Back to Even

Don’t sell low. When you have the money, buy everything (the total US stock market) and never sell it.


His Stock Picks

For fun, let’s look at Kramer’s dirty dozen stocks he picked back in 2009.

CAT – a good, solid call.

MMM – worked until 2018 and has been very disappointing since then. But of course, Kramer knew that and sold, right?

EMR – founded in 1890, I still haven’t heard of Emerson Electric. My version of EMR is what they use in hospitals to pretend to document patient encounters but is really an insurance billing machine.

V – it’s Visa. And UNP (Union Pacific Corp). PPG. Hewlett Packard.

COP – ConocoPhillips did nothing until post-covid, then we know what happened to energy stocks.

BHP – This seems to be a mining stock and has gone nowhere since he recommended it.

HD – Home Depot has been a winner!

VFC – is a holding company for outdoor brand-name apparal. What the heck happened to this stock this last year?

JMP – and finally, JP Morgan.

So, there you have 12 stocks, but remember you must research each for an hour a week. Index funds don’t work because of the returns from 2000 to 2009.

Given the last decade we have, it would be hard to pick 12 stocks that didn’t, on average, go up. But active investors who trade can do it.

Twenty-Five New Rules for Post-Apocalyptic Investing

Ok, so that is a fun trip down memory lane. What about the new stuff he wrote in the book back in 2009? What are the new rules for investing?

Of course, 25 are too many to include in this little blog, but we will first have fun with the juiciest ones. After throwing financial media under the bus (good, that’s where they belong), he says you must watch his show to get the real scoop on what is happening. Do you think he has a personality disorder, or is he just acting like he knows what he is talking about? There are fools, people who know they are fools, and people who know they are fools and trying to sell you something.

His first point is that companies manipulate their balance sheets to get low-quality, sleight-of-hand upside surprises in their earnings reports. That is a game that everyone seems to know about.

Next, know which indicators matter and they change in a heartbeat. He thinks you must have a thesis on the economy before investing.

My thesis is that the US won’t fail during my lifetime. That’s all I need to know to invest (we are the best of all the bad options).

Two Final Calls

Finally, Kramer has two great calls I’d like to highlight. First, in 2009, he stated that China is more important to the global economy than the US. True or not true in 2009 and now?

He also knows how to call a low. It is when credit is so tight that companies cannot afford to keep any inventory, and they dump it. Low inventory due to lack of credit signals a bottom.

Those two final calls come to fruition as he tells you to go to cash or gold when he tells you to. That’s how you get back to even. Go to cash when Kramer says so. He says:

…(2008 is) an experience that brutally shocked all of us into rethinking some of our course assumptions about investing.


His last tip is that investing is more difficult now than ever. Ironically, he said that in 2009. Since then, US Large Cap has dominated, and simple, low-cost, broadly diversified US total or S&P 500 ETFs dominated.

Investing hasn’t gotten harder; they are just better at confusing you. Investing is easy. When you have money, buy everything and then don’t sell.



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