Post of the Day
February 8, 2000

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Communion of Bears

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Subject:  You Americans!
Author:  Gilesyb

I am a tourist from on a trip to find out more about why all you Americans are so much richer than us Brits. Although I hope to get a few tasty tips, find out what you think about AMZN, and see if anyone over there is looking at buying up British firms (using last week's profits) my principle motivation is to try to pick up some American Attitude, and thereby retire rich.

Let me tell you about British attitude in relation to America. I understand that you have been enjoying the greatest bull market in history. The Dow has doubled in 3 years, the NASDAQ has tripled. Your economy is awash with exciting technologies, and companies that 1990 had never heard of now dominate the stock markets.

We Brits are able to bet on the performance of your markets through spreadbetting. And what has been the result of this fabulous opportunity? We have lost millions of pounds and dollars, sourly predicting a crash from 1996 onwards. One of our most famous fund managers, Phillips and Drew, even withdrew into cash at the sight of Dow 5000. The British way is always to look at the future in terms of the past. Nothing new can happen � if the market goes up in the next year, we look for precedents from the 1840's railway mania or 1929 crash. Rather than cheer success and try to emulate it, we short it. Our stock picking behaviour is like the last century of our history � backward looking. While you were creating the Dow Jones, we were sitting around our parlours sipping tea and counting the 3.5% return on our Consols. While Mr Ford was churning out cars, we were fighting imperial squabbles with the Irish and Indians. While the American dreams of the profits the future will bring, the Brit only hopes to wave his withered finger and spit out "I told you so!" to some poor character who bought too high.

So it is a bit disheartening to see that a number of you have caught the British disease. Talking about tulip bulbs and Joe Kennedy is the sort of thing an Englishman does when he finds himself long puts instead of long AOL. I always believed that the American, the most savvy investor in the world, was immune to such simple thinking. There is even some character called Rimpy (I think he hangs around the CMGI board) who has taken to predicting some kind of 50% crash every 2 months (and then claim that the timing is a mere detail, look at Joe Kennedy, sold in 1928, etc etc). It's almost like being back home!

Now, I appreciate that I am telling this to the wrong board. A world without bearish opinions is a dangerous one. However, I would recommend to all of you a quick trip across the pond to see the dull and dire consequences of negative, unAmerican thinking. Apart from our telecoms, our stocks are in doldrums. There is no-one there to explain to us the logic of investing in the Internet � the boards are dominated by cynicism, disbelief and intentions to short. Do us a favour, pay a visit, and keep the faith!

By the way, I would not like you to think that I am an undiscriminating fan of all things American. After all, you gave Braveheart an Oscar, and seem to need to wear armour to play a softer version of rugby. Still, there is always room for improvement . . .

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