Home » Headline, Investing

Investing Guide For The Next 20 Years

25 January 2011 33 Comments

Investing in the stock market is tricky business.  With the manner in which the markets and investing is covered by the media, it makes it quite confusing.  Business media like the Wall Street Journal or CNBC on TV is all about covering what is happening now.  It’s very hard to have and keep a long-term perspective with the way the media covers investing.

Moreover, it seems the alternative is to be completely ignorant to economic reality and events, ignore everything with regards to stocks and the economy, and let the experts handle your money and investments.  True passive investing.

Are these the only two options?  Day trading or passive, ignorant investing?  I don’t think so.

I think there is a way to have a long-term investment plan but be more active in your strategy and implementation than simply allocating a set amount on a monthly basis.  This article discusses this investment approach, and I call it my investing strategy or guide for the next 20 years.

I pick 20 years because I think there are some major trends that are in place that should impact the way you allocate your capital.  These macro trends will have a long-term impact.  20 years isn’t the important part.  These trends might only hold for 15 years, or it might be 30 years.  The number itself isn’t important.

The goal here is to identify some macro trends, and allocate investment capital accordingly.  We will outline these trends, and then the solutions or ways to implement an approach to take advantage of these trends.  As time passes, it’s important to continue to monitor these trends, but not get spooked on day-to-day events which ultimately, are more of a distraction than anything else.  Stay engaged, but objective and focusing on multi-year trends and developments.

The following outlines what I believe are undeniable trends.  Not only are they undeniable but they are also very impactful and will have a major influence on the economy and thus, the way we invest.  Let’s get into it.

Two Undeniable Macro Trends

1. Baby Boomers Shift From Spending Into Saving, From Living It Up To Buckling Down

The baby boomer generation is shifting into retirement mode.  Unfortunately, this massive segment of the American population is too broke to retire.  The boomers who desperately want to retire, are struggling to find ways to retire.  With a housing downturn – where far too many boomers planned on using their home equity to fund a future retirement – has left many boomers scratching their heads as to what to do.

The job picture is bleak for aging workers with outdating skills.  The stock market scares them and losses have been incurred in recent years.

The bottom line is that this massive segment of society wants to retire, but will have to accept a significantly lower standard of living in order to do so.  At best.

Now, it’s worth noting, that most of these guys probably had an over-extended standard of living even pre-retirement.  Their lavish spending helped fuel the economy.  Going out to dinner, re-doing kitchens, and taking vacations helped boost the economy for years.  This level of consumption won’t recover because of the reasons I’ve already outlined.

The American economy – dependent on consumption – will suffer and consumption will not return to prior levels.  Yes, I know you see the Apple earnings on a quarterly basis and we think that the consumer is back.  Remember, we want to focus on multi-year trends, not multi-month trends.  The consumer won’t be back.

Too large of a segment of society is slowing spending.  This will continue to slow down the consumption-fueled economy we have.  This will impact growth and stocks.

2. Credit Expansion Has Peaked

Going hand-in-hand with consumption that we just talked about was the expansion of credit.  Credit growth accounted for much of the economic growth we became accustomed to.  We built an economic system that required additional expansion of credit because frankly, that is what an over-indebted economy requires.  More debt is required to sustain a high level of debt.  Welcome to America.

What happens to the largest economy in the world that is completely dependent on debt when the expansion of credit hiccups?  You have chaos.  You have talk of the collapse of the financial system.  You have emergency Fed meetings.  This is what happened in 2008.  The expansion of credit stalled and like when a jet engine stalls, the jet began to fall out of the sky.

So, what kept the plane in the sky?  The Fed stepped in and started printing currency to continue to keep the “credit expansion” going.  But, can’t we just continue to do this and won’t we be fine?  Or, the second question you hear is: can’t we just stabilize the economy then the economy will grow its way out of this?  The answers are no and no, and I’ll explain why.

First, we can’t continue to do this indefinitely.  Why?  Because essentially the government/Fed is trying to overcome market forces.  You can’t beat the market.  You can delay the market events, but you can’t overcome it.  The market will always win.  You don’t know how it will look but the market will win.  That is why the government can’t create prosperity.  It might be that the Chinese stop buying American debt, or it might mean the collapse of the currency.  Either market response will ultimately win out (these are examples).  You can postpone the market forces, but you only do so temporarily.  It’s a dangerous game to play.

Second, we can’t grow our way out of this.  The current debt levels are astronomical, and any sane economist knows that the debt will never be repaid.  It’s like this sick global debt game that everyone plays.  All parties involved know the debt won’t be repaid (for a number of countries), but it’s just the game that is played.  Additionally, the policies that are being put in place are extremely counterproductive.  The productive class is penalized and forced to continue to fund the benefits of the rest of the population.  As purchasing power decreases as a result of printing the currency, the middle/lower class continues to deteriorate.  We’re not experiencing real growth.  If we’re not growing, how would we grow our way out of this?  Inflating asset prices doesn’t equate to growth.

To sum up this point, credit expansion has peaked.  The Fed will attempt to continue to support the expansion of credit but will not be able to ultimately counteract the market forces which will continue to strengthen and attempt to restructure the debt.  Think of it as a dam holding back waters that continue to climb.  It can’t hold forever.  The debt will be restructured one way or another (two options: default or inflation).

2b. Politicians Won’t Fix Anything

As I mentioned above, there is no political will to fix the economy.  The economic cure is political suicide.  We’re past the point of easy solutions.  Every solution requires taking something from someone, namely in the form of a benefit or a job.

Please know that I’m referring to both parties here in present form.

Solutions – What To Do / How To Invest

1. Stocks – If consumption and credit expansion are slowing continuously over the coming years, this means that economic growth will be slow at best.  Any growth will essentially be in the form of inflation (which we seem to think is the same anyways).  As such, factoring in inflation, stocks as a whole should not do well.  Remember, the Fed could print 100 trillion dollars and make the Dow hit 100,000 but that won’t be a real return on your money.

Should you avoid stocks altogether?  No, because stocks do offer some inflation protection as companies can pass on increased costs to consumers.  Buying the broad market, however, should not do well.

Which stocks?  I like companies that produce a needed product, on an international basis.  I don’t want to be in luxury items or highly discretionary products. Also, I want dividend stocks.

My favorite stock?  Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT).  Here’s why.  Not only will this company hold up as more Americans buy more from Wal-Mart as their standard of living declines, but Wal-Mart has an incredible long-term, international growth strategy that hardly anyone is talking about.  They are expanding and opening stores (all kinds of stores like restaurants and other retail businesses) in emerging markets like Mexico, Asia, and South Africa.  Their growth internationally should accelerate.  Best of all, nobody really talks about Wal-Mart and their stock hasn’t moved much in a decade (yes, this is a good thing) even while earnings have increased.  Throw in an annually increasing dividend payout and you got a home run here.  Biggest risk?  Probably peak oil possibilities. Answer: Hedge your Wal-Mart stock with energy/oil positions.

2. Commodities – As just mentioned, oil prices could spike in the coming years, and you should definitely have exposure to possible rising energy costs.  Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day or month-to-month price of crude oil.  Own some dividend paying oil and energy companies on a long-term basis.

With the global response to the global recession being little more than printing currency, there is a race to the bottom in the global currencies.  Everyone wants a crappy currency.  Therefore, you need to own precious metals.  Gold & silver.  Own them both.

3. Cash – I also recommend keeping levels of cash.  You will hedge your cash positions with inflation-hedged instruments like stocks, commodities and physical gold & silver.  You need a heavy cash position to buy distressed assets when they become available.  If anything, market volatility should be expected.  Who knows what the stock market will do, but you should have cash available to buy on serious volatility like we saw in 2008.

4. Timing – The worst thing you can do is alter your strategy based on the day-to-day chatter of the markets.  Today’s investing world is dominated by quarterly earnings announcements.  Quarterly earnings are almost useless in my opinion and are manipulated half the time.  The “street” celebrates when a bank draws down reserves to boost earnings and then they upgrade the stock.  Ignore all of this crap.  All of it.

Work on your strategy.  Develop it over time and over a couple years of observing.  Then, stick to it.  Buy assets that support your strategy when there are good opportunities.  Don’t get caught up in the excitement of a Apple earnings beat.  You’re probably better off not watching CNBC and not checking the market every day.  Instead, check stock prices occasionally and watch your dividend payments come in.

Reinvest your dividends to continue accumulating shares of the companies you want.  Other than that, hoard cash and wait for serious buying opportunities.  I’ll warn you, there might not be buying opportunities for years at a time.  This means you’ll have some serious dry powder and you can be really aggressive when the time comes.  In fact, you’ll need to be aggressive at this time.

What I’m Not Saying

1. I’m not saying you should avoid all stocks – I don’t think the wall street pushed method of passive investing, and buying stocks simply because they’ll go up as long as you wait long enough is the right course of action given the structural economic issues that are present.  You need to be selective and buy only at opportune times.  Yes, that means ignoring the current stock market rally.  Again, this is a 10-20 year focus not a 1-2 year focus.  Yes, I know people will criticize me for missing the current rally.  No, I don’t care.  Let’s talk in 10-20 years.  This is my strategy.  You can do with it what you want.

2.  Lastly, I’m not saying that everything is doom and gloom. I think for the masses, their standard of livings will decline.  They have to.  There’s no way around it.  Opportunities will not be as visible and it will require harder work and harder search to find them.  I’m willing to find them both in the investing world and the business world.


  • Arthur Garcia said:

    Another point you haven't considered is the effect the Echo Boomers (larger than the baby boomers) will have on the Economy. What are your thoughts on that?

  • TheWorldIsOneBig_ said:

    What about the Gecko boomers?

    What what…

    Gieco? Yo quiero Gieco. Insurance that is…

  • Samson said:

    Great, risk free advise.
    My only challenge is being in CASH position for long period of time.


  • Danielhendr said:

    I loved 2b comment. Just telling my wife about how upset I was about Obama's state of the union. He kept talking about cuts and investment and innovation, etc. Where the hell is the money gonna come for all this. Republicans and Democrats both lack political will to make any real cuts. It would be like me renovating my house with solar panels to save energy but using my credit card to pay for it.

  • Bryan said:

    Passive investing is ignorant investing? Give me a break. . .

  • Bryan said:

    Kevin. . .

    Something to keep in mind. . .my passive investment strategy was beating your investment strategy in your investment contest. Why did you end the contest? I thought there was going to be a link on the front page of your site to access the rankings?

  • 20smoney said:

    Allow me to clarify this phrase: "passive, ignorant investing?"

    I'm not saying that passive investing = ignorant investing. But i am saying that most passive investors are completely clueless about the stock market and economy and are thus ignorant investors.

    Moreover, most people view the alternative to true passive investing as day trading. I don't recommend day trading or even any sort of "trading" really.

  • peterdserrano3 said:

    I think you have some powerful points about the major macro economic trends affecting our world right now. Historically these macro trends towards intangible assets like paper and notes and stock and then towards more tangible assets like commodities, etc.. typically occur in roughly 20 year swings. I think a big thing to keep in mind especially in regard to stocks is that as these baby boomers retire they will begin cashing out retirement accounts little by little but these are the same accounts that they have been paying into for decades. The end result will be more people pulling money out of the markets and less putting money in. I think this will have strong and profound affects on the markets for decades to come.
    I think hedging with commodities coupled with strategic market investments in businesses that provide essential services/goods and have strong international plans would be the best move forward.

  • 20smoney said:

    well put. I agree.

  • Alexander said:

    Hey Ya'll,

    Here's some food for thought:

    Yes, inflation is up, and interest rates are low. Usually (macro-economically) the Feds. raise the rates, which induces banks to raise rates, and that is done so to control inflation. Since rates must stay low as money is hard to come-by right now (and as more people are out of work and are losing their homes) there needs to be some type of incentive. Yes, there's a discordance between higher prices and stagnant wages, and this allows our dollar to buy less domestically, but it has a greater impact overall futuristic-ally.

    For instance,

    With a weaker dollar through the Fed's current and previous actions in over-flooding the market with dollars, our dollar has, and will, become weaker. You might ask what is meant with a weaker dollar? That, who is to say that quantitative reasoning is going to fail us? Just one economist Peter Schiff? Yet, we've all failed to recognize where our nation derives it's power, and why we would benefit as peoples of this nation by a weaker dollar?

    Well, the answer is because we are America!

    Countries have tied their economies to our nation's dollar. It will have profound effects on them, yes, but we build the largest, strongest, and brightest (innovative) industries, and flourish through them all. A weaker dollar will bring us out of a trade deficit. Yes, some of us will suffer in the beginning (the poorest the most). Many will suffer, initially, I agree. Yet, with a weaker dollar, other countries overseas will want to invest in our great nation as it brings them a financial incentive to do so.

    In short, other countries will grasp their monies worth by investing and buying in our nation tradewise. They will invest and buy in our nation because it will be cheaper for them as it was back after the infamous "Dot-Com Boom" of 2001-2003. Thereafter, we flourished on a weaker dollar. Our economy was stronger than it had been from 2002 – late 2003/early 2004. Would one of you not agree? Those were the times that homes were the most stable. Our trade deficit was lower then, than now.

    Bottom-line, people across our nation will only afford to buy domestically for a short business cycle (e.g., 3-5 years). It is at that time that our industries will over-flood, but be build and prosper on more jobs created through the weaker dollar. It would be senseless for other nations to buy in other countries when we are the most productive, hardest-working (hour-wise), retain the brightest, most innovative, and best industries and universities worldwide

    Where is Apple, Inc. based out of? that is right my friends, America.

    In addition, people come throughout the world alone because of our entertainment industry.

    All this being said, "yes," some will suffer from inflation (and the various saving tactics explained herein this blog will be somewhat helpful in hedging some of the hurt that we may experience "personally"), but it will be for the greater good in the long-run. We just have to survive the current short-term hurt, and wait out till the international buyers by out on our weaker dollar. That is when we sill start to flourish, and when most of those who've lost all will regain themselves in an ever-prospering economy — built on some of the current and previous administration's mistakes.

  • xfiltrate said:

    Seems like even Big Sis is investing in Wal-Mart…I have heard rumors that homeland security is using Wal-Mart Stores Inc as a platform for communicating with the folks who shop there. Might be interesting to listen to what is being said. Anyone know?

    We are, right now, experiencing a military industrial complex economy, as suggested by President Eisenhower. Where homeland security in Wal-Mart stores fits in, I don't know, but I bet the we will
    all know soon!

    Alexander, i hope you are right – could you reference your comments that "we are the most… etc"
    especially the part about "best industries and universities worldwide"???

    Could it be our universities are top rated because many engineering, math and science majors are not Americans, but hard working foreigners who generally out score the American scholars and are indeed responsible, in large part, for the high ratings of our universities???

  • MarcusMan said:

    As a 27-year old, self-taught novice investor I'm having a hard time understanding a few things with this post. How do you wait for buying opportunities and ignore the stock market media chatter at the same time. Isn't waiting for buying opportunities and timing essentially the same thing? The problem I face with this strategy is even having the ability to see a great oppurtunity when it is staring at me in front of my face. I have become skeptical with anything anymore. Dollar-Cost Averaging into Target Funds may appear to be ignorant, but I don't trust myself picking individual stocks. Any suggestions for an investor such as myself? Or is there no right answer to this puzzle; is it all a gamble with what we think might happen?

  • Your Own Retirement said:

    When you venture into the stock market space you need to really try and make calculated decisions whenever possible. Watching trends and analyzing company data prior to a purchase will allow you make smart purchasing decisions.

  • exchangerates said:

    i would say investment is never end but a better investment so anything can be a best investment ……if you want me to choose…..i will choose crude oil(petroleum) in china…..because it is just finding out that china have a real good potential in it and currently not many people aware it so when reaching 20years later it should be the best investmen……

  • pandora bracelets for men said:

    They started out their business company in 1982 in addition to experienced been only available in Us with The twelve weeks 2003 and from now on they have more as in comparison to 200 top degree of quality stores plus a assortment of 1800 types within jewellery.

  • ISO 9000 said:

    I absolutely adore reading your blog posts, the variety of writing is smashing.This blog as usual was educational, I have had to bookmark your site and subscribe to your feed in i feed. Your theme looks lovely.Thanks for sharing.
    Commodity Tips

  • ISO 9000 said:

    I absolutely adore reading your blog posts, the variety of writing is smashing.This blog as usual was educational, I have had to bookmark your site and subscribe to your feed in i feed. Your theme looks lovely.Thanks for sharing.
    Commodity Tips

  • louis vuitton said:

    I simply had to appreciate you all over again. I am not sure the things that I might have sorted out without those opinions revealed by you directly on my situation. Completely was the intimidating dilemma in my circumstances, however , noticing your expert fashion you treated it took me to weep over gladness. I am thankful for your assistance as well as have high hopes you recognize what a great job you are accomplishing instructing others with the aid of your blog post. Most likely you haven’t come across any of us.

  • Julia Smith said:

    no purchase casinos, casino online usa, online casinos, no deposit bonus, online casinos reviews, US Casino site deposit bonuses
    Are you a US citizen? We have found and ranked all online casino rooms that are open to U.S. players (e.g. US citizens or players accessing Internet from the U.S.).
    play casino online, Online casino USA, US casino, online casino reviews, US casinos

  • Carl Martin said:

    PPC, SEM services, Barcelona SEO
    Increase your ranking with Barcelona SEO: a search engine optimization and internet marketing agency specializing in SEO and SEM services.
    search engine optimization in Barcelona, SEO

  • Louise Reed said:

    online, system, guru, betting, win, money, roulette, download, spin4profit, secrets
    Free Download Spin4Profit Ninja to create multiple roulette betting systems, best of all, its new feature let you load multiple …
    casino, software, strategy, tips, spin, cash, profit, ninja, free

  • Eric Jones said:

    Internet Marketing TT, search engine optimization
    DotComSecretsTrinidad and Tobago, Bringing Local Internet marketing services to Trinidad and Tobago
    get customers, Trinidad and Tobago

  • James Davis said:

    alli weight loss, alli, ali weight loss, alli
    IBest alli Deals – is alli Weight loss Pill Right For You
    alli weight loss, allis diet pill, alli pill

  • Warren Buffett said:

    I want to tell you My favorite Warren Buffett quote is this: Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.

  • Donald Davis said:

    federal resume writing services reviews, federal resume writers, federal government resume writing service
    {Providing|Offering} in-depth {information|information and facts|details} about the {complex|complicated|difficult} {Federal|Federal government} {hiring|employment} process, this {website|site|web site} not only {offers|presents|features} {extensive|comprehensive} {government|Federal government} job {listings|vacancies|openings} but also free {resources|articles} to {prepare|write} a {Federal|government} resume, whether it’s {guidelines|instructions|recommendations} to {write|prepare} a {strong|good|great} and compliant {Federal|government} resume on your own or {tips|advice|hints} to {find|select|identify} a good professional {Federal|government|Federal government} resume writing {service|company}.
    federal resume writing experts, professional federal resume writing

  • Paul Perez said:

    last longer, premature ejaculation, how to last longer
    {Are you aware | Did you know} that 75% of {the female population | adult women} think that you {should | need to} know how to last longer in bed
    viagra, longer lasting sex

  • Deborah Smith said:

    how to make money, make money, ways to make extra money, cell phone, make money at home
    Cell Phone Money Maker Turn Your Cell Phone Into A System That Makes You Money While You Sleep
    ways to make money, make money fast, make money online, make money from home

  • Anthony Thompson said:

    Video Sharing, Business Video Hosting
    Great information on how to make money fast from the internet.

  • David Jenkins said:

    family vacations, cruise, all inclusive family vacations, Va…, travel, vacation resorts http://youtu.be/4SDOfJc6FPY http://ezinearticles.com/?All-Inclusive-Vacation-… For some great money saving tips and finding those great Caribbean vacations.
    tourism, cruise deals, vacation deals, Inclusive, All, vacation Cheap

  • Antonio Diaz said:

    free, spill, gambling
    Top10 site about free poker for Danish players. All licensed and regulated.
    poker, dansk

  • Randy Campbell said:

    norsk casino, marketing
    Best site for norske casinospillere
    nettkasino, spill

  • Dennis Davis said:

    Energy Dependence, Online Blog
    Anything and Everything Poker Blog – Small Energy Group, Online Blog, Energy Group, Energy Dependence
    Energy Group, Small Energy Group

  • Richard Harris said:

    Get Vimax, http://getvimax.org
    Get Vimax, Get Vimax penis enhancement pills now and begin to discover first hand why Vimax has been ranked #1 in the male nutritional market for so long. http://getvimax.org
    click here