“The Greatest Story That No One Knows”

Alexander Green
by Alexander Green, Chief Investment Strategist, The Oxford Club
woman-whispering-to-man-illustration

If there’s one thing Americans of all stripes can agree on today, it’s that we live in bitter, angry, polarized, politically divisive times.

Yet too few seriously question what it is they’re so upset about.

If they did, they wouldn’t just be calmer, happier and less stressed out. They’d also be considerably richer.

Two of the nation’s smartest men - including one of the world’s wealthiest - are trying valiantly to get folks to understand this.

Yet most either haven’t heard them - or won’t believe them.

That’s a shame, really. Because understanding their point of view can dramatically impact not just your perspective on the world - but the size of your investment portfolio.

Here’s how...

Many Americans today are angry and frustrated. Why is that?

Is it because we’re going through a severe depression like we did in the 1930s, when a quarter of the nation was unemployed and millions stood in breadlines?

No. Unemployment claims are at a 45-year low, and U.S. household net worth - that’s assets minus liabilities - is at an all-time high: $96.9 trillion.

Is it because we are in an existential conflict like World War I or World War II, where our very freedom and security are at risk? Of course not.

Is it because we are in an unpopular war like the one in Vietnam, with a draft that forces young Americans to fight and die overseas?

No. We are still embroiled in the war in Afghanistan - the longest in U.S. history - but it largely affects professional military personnel and their families.

Is it because we are going through a great societal upheaval like the civil rights era of the 1960s?

No. There are racial tensions, yes. But things are getting better, not worse.

If you doubt this, ask yourself some simple questions... When were Americans less racist than they are today? Less homophobic? When did women have more equality?

Things are not perfect, to be sure. But the trend line is undeniably positive.

Many people don’t understand this. Or, worse, they don’t want to hear it.

Recall the many Congressional representatives who sat on their hands during President Trump’s State of the Union speech earlier this week.

They don’t like the man or his policies. Fine. I get that.

But they can’t applaud for a stronger economy, higher wages, growing business and consumer confidence, or record-low black unemployment?

There is more than just politics as usual going on here. A substantial percentage of Americans don’t want to acknowledge good news or favorable developments. (Nor do they want their elected representatives recognizing any positive outcomes. That would demonstrate they are out of touch.)

These folks are fully invested in grievance and resentment.

This is not most Democrats today, in my experience. It’s those on the fringe, both the far left and the far right.

They are having a competition to see who can be more negative, more offended or more outraged, despite the fact that Americans today are living longer, healthier, safer, richer and freer lives than ever before.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates - the world’s richest man until Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surpassed him recently - calls this “the greatest story that no one knows.”

In a New York Times interview this week with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, the two men talked about all the ways American society and the rest of the world are getting better - and why most Americans don’t recognize it.

This isn’t just valuable knowledge for its own sake. It’s a solid foundation for a whole investment approach.

After all, why risk your hard-earned money in the financial markets if we live at a terrible time, in a horrible world and in a nation that’s on the wrong track?

It isn’t true.

And in my next column, I’ll explain how the perspective shared by Bill Gates, Steven Pinker and me can dramatically increase your net worth.

Good investing,

Alex

Thoughts on this article? Leave a comment below.

Eat Our Dust, American Express

Before the millennium, Bill Gates could have claimed that Apple was "eating Microsoft's dust." A similar motto could line the walls of PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL) headquarters today.

PayPal is now even bigger - and in higher growth mode - than American Express, a bastion of blue chip companies. That's why Alexander Green recently discussed its turbocharged performance as a member of his Oxford Communiqué Oxford Trading Portfolio...

When investors consider technology companies, they generally imagine cutting-edge fields like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, networks, sensors, genetics, robotics or 3-D printing.

Yet some tech companies operate in industries that are more pedestrian but far more profitable.

Consider online payment processing.

A survey by CAN Capital found that mobile payments technology is overtaking e-commerce as the biggest trend in retail consumers' spending habits.

This is good news indeed for PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL), a member of our Oxford Trading Portfolio.

PayPal is at the forefront of the digital payments revolution. The company allows consumers and businesses to securely transact with each other online and - using mobile devices - in public.

The firm now has more than 218 million active customers. Its global payments platform is available 24/7 in more than 200 countries, enabling customers to pay in more than 100 currencies.

The company is a huge beneficiary of the growing use of smartphones. Mobile payment volume soared 54% in the third quarter last year.

Many of these payments were made with its Venmo app.

Venmo is PayPal's peer-to-peer payment platform that's popular with young adults who want to send money to their friends at no cost.

Payment volume on Venmo hit $9.4 billion in the most recent quarter, up 93% from more than a year ago.

In the same quarter, earnings jumped 17% on a 21% increase in revenue. The stock rose 6% the next session, powering to a new all-time high.

PayPal is at the forefront of the global transition from cash to digital payments. And it's positioning millions of merchants for an all-digital retail environment.

Our shares of PayPal are up 82% since we got in 17 months ago.

The company is now worth more than American Express - yet it is still expanding rapidly.

And it recently signed partnership agreements with Facebook and JPMorgan Chase, not to mention Vodafone in Europe, Baidu and Alibaba in China, Banorte in Mexico, and Shinhan Card, the largest credit card issuer in South Korea.

As people increasingly connect and transact online, future growth here is virtually assured.

- Donna DiVenuto-Ball with Alexander Green

Live Twitter Feed