Saturday, July 18, 2009

In Praise of Intellectual Flexibility

What do the following folks have in common?

Meredith Whitney
Nassim Taleb
Nouriel Roubini
T. Boone Pickens
David Rosenberg

They have all created a very profitable niche for themselves in the institutional investment world while at the same time guaranteeing themselves the luxury of never (maybe) having to change their mind, their tune, their call. None of them have in recent memory.

You might say that Meredith Whitney turned bullish this week when she upgraded Goldman but she didn’t. She’s still very negative on the banks.

Boone Pickens was a rock star when oil was at $145. He thought it was going to $400 or something. He went fishing when it tanked and now is out raising money again.

I know there is way too much financial media in this country, especially of the TV variety. I also know that Nickelback and Linkin Park sell a lot of music even though most of their songs sound the same. Is our attention span so short that we get confused if someone is thoughtful enough to change his or her mind? Jon Joseph was a very good semiconductor analyst at Salomon Smith Barney when he made a huge, vocal downgrade (2001 maybe?) of the semiconductor industry, precisely at the peak of the cycle. He put the peak of the cycle into the stocks. After that he became a rock star semi analyst. I'm pretty sure he owns a vineyard now.

I'm listening. Have the guts to change.

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