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James: “Why the Market is Going Up”

James: “Why the Market is Going Up”

James Altucher

Posted March 27, 2024

James Altucher

I've been scared for quite some time. I read the news and I start to wonder how the world will even survive.

I always get flashbacks to my worst moments, when it seemed like the world was over and I cowered in my house and as quietly as possible, would go broke and cry. Trying to figure out how I would feed two little babies.

There are wars going on. Talk of "civil war" in the news. An election is coming up that is like an accident on the road we drive by and can't help staring just in case we get to see blood, guts, death.

And yet to make money you have to ignore the fears. When everyone is looking back at the accident, wondering how it will touch them, the investor has to look forward.

It's a symptom of the human condition that people want to know "Why?"

For instance, why is the market going up? In fact, why is it hitting all time highs? Didn't we just mention wars? Aren't we afraid of inflation? Of rate hikes, or perhaps worse, rate cuts and the recession that implies?

Aren't we worried about the dollar imploding. or commercial real estate exploding, or the uncertainy of the election? Shouldn't we be scared?

I was in an airport yesterday. I was flying to Utah. I'm speaking at a conference about the nature of going on a quest.

How in one's worst moments, you can't be frozen like a deer. These moments are special and must be treated as special, almost holy. Because they will either become the stories that define your life later, or the moments that ultimately did you in, despite all prior successes.

A quest is when you seek the impossible against all odds, against all the well-wishers who warn you, and against your own drive to stick to the paths that you have walked on for so long but have only brought you to this point - this worst moment.

I was in the airport and the worst television network in history was on the screen: CNBC.

The talking head was saying: "Stocks are going up only because companies are purchasing their own shares."

Forget for a second that a company will purchase their own shares only when: A) they have excess cash due to profits, and B ) they think their stock is undervalued. C) they know better than anyone what is happening at their company.

This "analyst" was insistent that this fake money was bolstering the markets and it would eventually collapse.

I started thinking of all the reasons people were giving that stocks seemed to be going higher despite their belief that the world was about to veer off its orbit and crash right into the Sun.

A) Companies were buying back their own stock.
B) The Fed was getting ready to cut rates
C) Trillion dollar spending packages in Congress would pump money into the economy.
D) Only the top 7 companies were going up, the rest were in a bear market (not true).
E) Venture capitalists were investing more money than ever in companies and that money would eventually find its way into the stock market.
F) the market gains are equal to inflation so are not "real".

One reason that nobody seemed to give was the simplest answer.

There's a mental model - a rule that can be a shortcut for figuring out complicated situations - called Occam's Razor.

Occam's Razor suggests that the direction one's compass should navigate towards on the rough seas of decision is the Simplest reason.

For instance: the stock market is going up because companies are doing well.

When companies do well they have better potential for profits. And they reinvest those profits and continue to grow.

This is the answer.

Why are companies doing well?

1) We had two years that the entire global economy shut down. So companies are restocking the shelves that were abandoned for two years.

For two years nobody cut down a tree. So there was no wood for houses. So people stopped building houses. Now that is reversing.

For two years supply chains shut down. Now goods are coming back into the ports. So people are buying them.

2) Artificial Intelligence. Yes, I advise my children: use AI to cheat on your college essays. And I can make a fun song using AI with just a text prompt: "make a rap song about my podcast".

That's fun.

But AI increases productivity. It means for every dollar spent, more value can be produced.

If I want to make a logo, I no longer have to hire someone or spend weeks figuring out Adobe Photoshop. I can ask AI. Seconds later, it will make me ten logos.

My productivity increases.

When a farmer wants to til his land, he no longer has to get on the tractor, spend months spraying pesticides and pulling up weeds.

He can use his automated driving tractor (saving time on manual labor so he can more efficiently manage the farm) He can use AI to determine exactly what parts of the land need to be sprayed (saving hundreds of millions of dollars across all farmers), he can know exactly which parts of the land can be harvested more accurately.

And on and on.

Doctors can more accurately and quickly diagnose.

Accountants can do taxes faster.

Lawyers can consult relevant laws per case faster and more accurately.

Robots will clean your house. Software bots will protect your company from cyber attacks. AI dashboards for CFOs will tell you where and who are buying your products from what stores so you can more accurately plan the next year. Data centers of AI supercomputers can construct compounds for new medicines.

AI is not just about the AI companies like Microsoft and OpenAI and Nvidia.

Those companies are just the servants who work in the kitchen, making the food.

But the other 10,000 companies that drive the economy are the ones that satiate their appetites, using AI to create better products in their industries, save money, make more money, and create more innovations more quickly.

THIS is what is driving companies. It doesn't matter about rates. It doesn't matter about inflation. Or even wars or this coming election.

Yes, those things matter in life. And day-by-day they might effect stocks. But the market is going up because of Charles Darwin.

Every industry is evolving.

Perfumes evolved from the organic scents of flowers, to the synthetic scents made by chemists, to the AI-created scents beyond the ability of scientists to create long-lasting, better smelling scents that will make more profits in a $10 billion industry. Powered by IBM software.

Medicine is evolving. From your local shaman you would pray to get better. To the doctor who would hit your knee with a little hammer. To advanced X-ray techniques. To AI diagnosticians. To AI-created personalized medicine and genomics.

Finance is evolving. From barter, to gold, to gold-backed, to fiat, to digital, to digital and trustless (crypto). And along with that, the legal industry from dumb contracts (with dozens of lawyers fighting), to smart contracts (zero lawyers).

One Dollar Money is evolving.

THIS YEAR is society's crux, where every industry that has existed is being re-birthed in this baptism of AI, crypto, and the hungrier demands of society.

Sure, all the reasons mentioned above are possible answers as to why the market is going up. If the Fed cuts rates, markets go up. If companies purchase shares, the market goes up.

But the stock market is going up because companies are doing better, technology is eliminating problems of prior generations, and cash profits are being generated at a faster than expected rate.

It's too easy for me to be scared. To remember times when I was so scared I would make bad decisions, go broke, and pray to survive.

But that's looking back. The path forward is filled with more hope that we normally like to believe, for fear of being stupid.

But it's good to be stupid and rich.

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