Ken Fisher, founder and executive chairman of Fisher Investments, talks personal investments, advice for millennials and what’s the deal about cryptocurrencies.
This ain’t some April Fools’ joke. Climate change will improve life.
Why? Consider history. Most people can’t envision a hugely better life decades from now. Never have. Consensus forecasts for the far future have always conjured disasters. Same thing now.
America’s aging population tanking our economy! Debt bombs! Climate change flooding coastal cities! Terrorists! Social Security’s bankruptcy! (See my Dec. 3 column debunking this).
Cheer up. History suggests capitalism will transform these into net benefits improving life in unimaginable ways. Even better, you can profit from it.
This ain’t horse dung, either. In 1900, the overwhelming consensus was that New York and London would soon be buried in manure from horse-and-buggies linked to explosive population growth. But cars soon rendered that horse puckey.
After that, experts warned the “population bomb” would generate worldwide mass starvation (Neo-Malthusiansim). But thanks to advancing food production, storage and transport technology, famine faded — despite global population fully doubling since then. Outside war-torn or hugely corrupt nations, starvation is mostly history.
This ain’t some Russian conspiracy. Recall that Cold War? Nuclear USSR? Mushroom cloud phobia, when my generation repeatedly practiced air raid drills by diving under school desks? (How were those desks gonna’ save me?)
Despite Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously saying, “We will bury you” in 1956, legendary diplomat Vernon Walters detailed how capitalism’s growth would allow the West to easily afford military technology that the Soviets couldn’t — and finally bury them financially. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore’s metal oxide semiconductor technology largely finished that job.
As for the air, since I first started voting, Pittsburgh’s snow isn’t grey/black like back then. Los Angeles air is breathable again.
And consider the huge advances in health technology. I caught polio in 1953. Progress in medicine has destroyed that era’s worst health ravages, and changes keep coming, extending life spans. Cancer deaths have dropped more than 25% since 1990. (See my Jan. 21 column: www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2018/01/21/medical-advances-increase-odds-youre-going-need-more-your-401-k/1046414001/).
Creative folk, through capitalism, keep inventing cool new stuff, endlessly, and will continue to. (See my March 11 column: www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2018/03/11/how-your-401-k-stocks-harness-power-invention/408270002/.)
Fears that we would pump our oil wells dry or depend on foreign crude reigned for decades. AKA Peak Oil.
No more. First came fracking (an energy extraction technique), then came water pollution phobia from fracking.Yet waterless fracking is on deck now. Technology through capitalism rendered all that hot air. And hot air brings us back to climate change.
What I’ve described, and so much more, was done by creative capitalists to profit from problems. Climate change is a huge potential problem. So why shouldn’t we believe greedy, conniving capitalists will conjure wildly crazy sounding schemes, most of which fail, but some few of which transform our climate equations? And all to make a buck! Those buggerish, bad guys! Crazy, you say?
Is it not crazier to believe capitalism’s creative continuum simply stops? Those other megafears, above, will also generate net benefits. Do I know how? Not a clue. Will it happen? Faster than the nick of time.
And you can profit from it without knowing what or who does it. Often, the biggest winners from technology aren’t technologists but creative dreamer-users spinning that tech into something unbelievably useful. Scan your home. Count the gizmos using Noyce’s semiconductors. Big screen TVs, cars, coffee maker, thermostat, microwave and kids’ toys.
Where most fear monster long-term risks lay unimaginable opportunities. Evil capitalists will do the heaviest lifting. They’ve done it since capitalism’s birth to reap megaprofits. New firms sprout. Old ones adapt to grow. Failures die. Stock investors reap the rewards — even passively through cheap Standard & Poor’s 500 index funds. (For foreign stocks see my Nov. 12 column: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2017/11/12/trump-rally-why-its-misunderstood-and-what-do/850507001/.
Oh, by the way: Stock brokerage commissions fell more than 95% during my career. (My online critics mistakenly claim I sell stocks. Never have, but I do believe in stocks.)
Many call capitalism greed-driven. That’s too cynical. It’s creativity-driven. It lets you profit from optimism for a better future.
Profits from problems.
The U.S. government office that oversees federally funded climate research has recommended studies into two areas of geoengineering research, marking the first time scientists in the executive branch have formally called for studies in the controversial field.
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