Jeremy Siegel is a professor of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Stocks for The Long Run: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns and Long-Term Investment Strategies. He recently played "Buy, Sell, or Hold?" with David and Tom Gardner on The Motley Fool Radio Show.
David: Professor Siegel, you've played "Buy, Sell, or Hold" with us before. We'll throw out things that are not stocks, but things happening in the business world or our society, and ask if they were stocks, would you be buying, selling, or holding, and a sentence or two about why.
First up: Buy, sell, or hold -- the Bush tax cut.
Jeremy Siegel: Well, I like it, but I think I'm going to have to say sell. The Senate really has rejected more than half of it. Most of it won't fly. As I said, I like it -- I would love to have bought it -- but the reality looks like it is at least a short-term sell.
Tom: There's a lot of people wondering about a country that seemed to be a big ally of ours... buy, sell, or hold -- France?
Siegel: Woo! You know, it's funny... all of Europe is going up and down, whether you are a member of the coalition or not. I really think that Central Europe is having trouble with aging and inflexible labor forces and all the rest. And with the recent rally right now, my feeling is, at most, hold -- and maybe sell.
Tom: What country does look attractive to you, for an investor looking to deploy some of their capital internationally.
Siegel: I still think the emerging countries of the world. Their values have been down and are now reasonable, and that's where the growth is going to be over the next 20 years. I would put a little part of your portfolio diversified among those emerging nations.
Tom: What about China? We always hear... this is a huge portion of the world's population; they've got a tremendous land mass -- great opportunities to create products and services and deliver them around the world over the next 50 years. Is China the boom of the next half century?
Siegel: I think so. China and India are buys. Of course, which docks and whether it should be coming from China or coming from the multinationals are yet to be decided. But that is going to be the area of growth -- no doubt.
David: Dr. Siegel, are you presuming, given that China and India have traditionally run fairly poor economies with a lot of government control, that we're going to see more capitalism?
Siegel: Oh, yes. Certainly in China, we have seen that. I mean, they call themselves communists, but they are not. They are capitalists, and they are proud of their gains. And India is watching them and saying, "Why can't we have those gains?" We're doing pretty well -- but there's no reason why India should not do as well as China and get that growth up to 8%.
David: Professor Siegel, you said emerging markets... emerging countries... I can't tell what's emerging anymore. South Korea, for example -- is that still emerging, or is that more mature?
Siegel: Oh, yeah -- you're right. It's pretty developed. And Taiwan. And the Philippines. And Indonesia. And that area. And I would include India, and in many ways, China, also. I would say not just countries that are born there or that are coming there. I like any multinational that is making a lot of contacts there, and is positioning itself for the population boom that is going to take place.
Tom: Buy, sell, or hold -- the oil industry?
Siegel: I think it's a buy. You know oil prices are back down again. But we are still going to need energy --especially China and the developing countries are still going to need energy. I think they're reasonably priced. I would say that's a buy sector.
David: Buy, sell, or hold -- the likelihood that Alan Greenspan will be reappointed as Fed chairman.
Siegel: I think that's a sell. I think he positioned himself with the criticism of the Bush tax cut.... My feeling is that he is not, by his own choice, going to be renominated next summer.
Tom: Buy, sell, or hold -- the viability of the Social Security system, in it's present form, going forward 25 years.
Siegel: Twenty-five years, it's a hold -- barely. As we go out 50 years, it's a sell because it can't survive, and the trustees have actually told us it's not going to survive. You know, it just depends on when we face up to the facts on what we're going to have to do in order to get that to actually work. But in it's present form, it's a goner.
David: Professor Siegel, baseball season, of course, is getting under way. So, well, they're your local team; buy, sell, or hold -- the Philadelphia Phillies' World Series chances here in 2003?
Siegel: Oh, it's being upgraded from a sell to a hold, and maybe a buy for the first time in a few years. We've got some players that might make this work, and next year, we're going to have a new stadium. So, people are optimistic.