You invest in the energy, real estate, finance, insurance, and supermarket industries. What book would you give to your younger self?
The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike, founder of Housatonic Partners, a private equity firm. It’s one of the best books on business and it gives you good insight into the thought processes of successful CEOs.
Warren Buffet loved it, too. When did you read it?
Three years ago. But I wish I would have read it at the start of my investment career or when I started my investment study career when I was around 15.
If you could pick one company to buy and run, what would it be?
One of the major defense firms, like a Lockheed Martin or a Raytheon. I’ve always been fascinated with defense technology and geopolitics.
What global trends keep you up at night?
The increase in political polarization in the country and the rise of socialism. I don’t blame people for becoming socialists. There are a lot of issues, like the massive redistribution of wealth and the structure of the job market. But both trends can harm the United States over the next one hundred years.
Where in the investment landscape do you think the market is getting it wrong?
Shared office space companies like WeWork that are just repackaging old assets in a way that is advantageous for the company and unfavorable for the landlord. You’re basically taking long-term expensive leases, chopping them up, and reselling them to short-term bad credit tenants. I think this will be a big issue in the next financial crisis.
What societal issue would you solve if you had a magic wand?
The opioid epidemic. Politicians do a horrible job connecting all the dots, but the economy, illegal immigration, unemployment, and the opioid epidemic all connect, whether you are on the left or the right. We lose so many good people every day.
Have you lost people close to you?
No, but people close to me have gotten hooked on it and have thankfully recovered. But I know people who have lost many loved ones. It’s a significant risk for our country and it’s really, really sad.
Predict something — anything.
China will be a huge problem for us. We have the best university system in the world, but we don’t give people visas to stay and work in the US. China had 4.7 million recent STEM grads while the US had 568,000, and the disparity will almost double by 2030. I’m going to predict that relations with China are just going to get worse and worse over our lifetimes.