A bit of a rant here. Blowing off some steam for yall’s pleasure.

I’m out to dinner at a local Irish pub with three friends. Somehow the conversation shifts to stocks. I keep my mouth shut the whole time. I’m so awed by the ease of ignorance, especially from friends, I’m left speechless. I want to pour their beer on their heads and hit them with their mugs.

One guy, the oldest in his mid to late 40s, is outed as the investing failure. “Whatever he does, do the opposite because you’re sure to make money.” He plays the market timing game, and loses often. I guess he recently sold Apple just before the stock shot up. Why he bought or decided to sell, I don’t know. He also sold gold commodities at a loss too, and his thoughts on this were, “I’m the only person who can buy gold during wartime and lose money.” All I want to ask is, do you have any clue how commodity markets work, wartime or not? Do you have any idea how gold is effected by world trends? Actually, that’s not all I wanted to ask, but where he gets his assumptions on how and why to trade in gold, or even Apple stock or any of the other stocks that he sold at the wrong time, is beyond me, and why he keeps doing it is also beyond me. Or at least why he keeps doing the same thing without have much of a clue why he does it is beyond me. Is self-education really that hard? People say my generation has a short attention span, but how else could one explain the continuing actions of the older generation?

The other guy, the second oldest in his late 30s, recently bought stock in a health company of some sort. His reasoning, at least the one he gave at the table, was that Obama has been pushing his universal health plan. Maybe there was more logic behind it, but I doubt it. First, Obama is running for president, he isn’t president yet. Second, there are plans from 4 other candidates, not including plans from people not running for president, which have striking differences from Obama’s plan that may or may not help the health industry or that one company. Why that one company he purchased is in any better position to benefit at all is very questionable. Of course, all of these plans are years if not at least a decade away from even happening, if at all, so I’m not sure I’d bet my money today on something as far away and unpredictable as Obama’s universal health plan.

The only upside to this whole conversation was that the last friend, youngest of us by 10 days, didn’t have any of his own stories, but instead teased the oldest about his poor market timing skills. He’s definitely in a better spot than the others, but I want to bow my head in shame when they all talk stocks and no one even thinks to ask my input. Me being the only one at the table who’s even worked in investment banking, has a degree that at least taught me about investing even if it’s not a finance degree, and the only one who actively researches and studies these things. I don’t want to be the authority figure in the group, and I’m not trying to be the final say, but that so many silly and misleading statements could be made without a thought of getting feedback is disappointing. It’s like diagnosing an illness you have with a doctor sitting next to you, but never thinking to ask for the doctor’s thoughts.

It just makes me want to scream. I speak up when it feels appropriate, but too much of our talks are just idle chat. Personally, I love challenging assumptions and beliefs, and sometimes it’s like the world would rather sit back and watch than think or god forbid do something. Maybe I just need a different breed of friends to satisfy that side of my personality, but I don’t know where to find them. Still, I’m an optimist, even if this rant doesn’t feel optimistic.

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