Pinkers is a great fan of MoneyWeek: One of the few financial publications that manage to entertain without dumbing down. Articles are beautifully written, witty and, last but not least, extremely well researched. In summary: Exemplary journalism. This, of course, is hardly surprising: Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in chief, is without question one of the sharpest brains in the business and her brilliant team of lateral thinking contributors makes this publication indispensable.
It’s contrarian, genuinely thought-provoking and certainly not afraid to take a risk! ‘No Risk, No Fun’ is Pinkers’s family motto so it’s a brilliant fit… well a hit!
In this week’s MoneyWeek, publisher Bill Bonner “gives some rare stock tips”, headlined “Buy Russian gas, sell tech stocks”. As one would expect: A well-researched, beautifully written and entertaining article. It’s also very persuasive – sort of, anyway… until you come to the last paragraph:”…Sell those damned expensive US high tech stocks. Buy those cheap energy companies run by corrupt Russian oligarchs.”
Yes, Pinkers could not agree more on the first bit: SELL US high tech – it’s a no-brainer. But putting your money into the pockets of “corrupt Russian oligarchs”? Not so sure if that’s a good idea… . Yes, we all know how terribly cheap Russia is, especially when applying traditional yardsticks. It’s a bit like going shopping at Prada and discover an item for less than a hundred quid and asking yourself “What’s wrong with it?” – and leave it on the shelf. Double the price, and you would have happily presented the credit card (buy now pay never) without batting an eyelid.
So what’s wrong with Russia? Simple: It’s cheap for a reason and Mr Bonner puts his finger on the spot: It’s corrupt. Not just the oligarchs but the whole system is. It’s also lawless. And that is even worse. If Russia can ‘do a Crimea’, surely doing an Argentinian-style ‘Repsol’ would be a doddle in comparison! In conclusion: Goods are cheap because there is not sufficient demand for it. And for once, investors seem to have their heads firmly screwed on!
Finally, without wishing to peddle moral agendas… not really Pinkers style… certainly nothing wrong with making money (lovely!) – but corruption is wrong. Very wrong. It’s not about making money. It’s about greed. And greed is unacceptable. And what goes around, comes around: Ignore it at your peril!