I raised my daughter in Orange County, California. Beaches, boats, palm trees, friends with fancy cars – life could have been a whole lot more difficult.
Spoiled senseless? Not really. She worked three jobs (martial arts assistant instructor, science tutor, husbandry intern at the Dana Point Ocean Institute) while maintaining a 4.4 G.P.A. at her high school. Today, she’s a biology major with a marine minor at the University of California at San Diego.
My kid is nineteen years old now. And even though she hasn’t lived at home for about a year, I cannot say that I am crazy about seeing her one weekend a month. So my wife and I asked her to join us in New York this past week. That’s right. Before heading back to DNA replication in one of her two lab internships – before resuming sorority obligations, hanging out with her surf-loving boyfriend and attending biodiversity lectures – my not-so-little piece of my heart had an opportunity to see her father’s hometown.
“What do you think?” I asked, barely recognizing the area myself. She hadn’t really paid much attention to the east coast slice of suburbia when she visited 17 years earlier.
“Everything seems extremely old,” she replied. She didn’t say “quaint” or “unique,” and it hurt my feelings for some reason. I let her know that not every car is a Tesla. I told her that some brick buildings have character – a whole lot more charm than stucco. I even felt the need to mention that some of the oldest and most successful public companies – Alcoa (AA), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), MetLife (MET), Hess Corp ((HES) – had their headquarters in the state of New York.
Not surprisingly, my kid gave me one of those “you don’t get it” stares. Perhaps if I had brought up names like Facebook (FB) or Amazon (AMZN) or Netflix (NFLX), we would have been speaking the same language. And yet, that’s when it hit me. Pizazz at any price is a hallmark of latter-stage stock market bulls. Indeed, whereas every major sector ETF of the economy trades below its 200-day moving average, First Trust Internet (FDN) trades above its trendline; whereas nearly all of the major sectors are negative year-to-date, FDN is up more than 10%.
I realize that there are a whole lot of folks who believe in the forward growth potential of Internet juggernauts like Facebook (FB) and Netflix (NFLX). I don’t blame you for thinking that they cannot lose 50%, 60%, 70% of their value over the next few years. The thing is, in my 25 years of experience, peaking margin debt is the least kind to the flashiest and the sexist of stocks.