Last time I discussed another member of the media club, Harry Dent. I basically demonstrated how Dent is no different than the other experts praised by the financial media. The previous article can be found here.
Here, I continue with a review of Dent's track record. As you will see, similar to the other so-called experts promoted by the media, Dent's expertise lies more in marketing than in market forecasting.
Just have a look at one of Dent's marketing pictures shown below. It looks like he commissioned the William Morris Agency to put this together. This is pure marketing, created to drive the perception that this man can make you rich. But there is much more to Dent and his business plan.
In order to put Dent’s predictions into proper perspective, you need to know a bit about his track record. Dent has made a career out of making wild predictions as the result of a bubble economy. The only problem is that he never realized that the bubble was fueling this “growth.” So obviously, he had no idea what would cause the bubble to implode, nor did he understand the full impact.
Let’s take a look at some of his books.
In his first book, The Great Boom Ahead (December 1993), Dent forecast Dow 8500 by 2006-2010. While he turned out to kind of be right (several years) later, in my opinion the prediction lacked credibility because the massive credit bubble fueled the stock market. If Dent had realized that, he might have seen the collapse coming. Instead, Dent based his forecast on Romper Room demographic arguments.
There are so many variables that must be considered ahead of demographics that I cannot even list them here. But I will mention one of the less obvious factors. The rise in the stock market in the 1990s was largely due to the shift from pension to 401(k) plans and the rise of mutual funds. Of course, the number reason for the bull market period of the 90s was the massive credit bubble created by the Federal Reserve and Washington. I discussed these points in great detail in AFA.
As the fact show, Dent not only missed the boom, he also missed the collapse. While he discussed a “downturn” in this and several books thereafter, according to Dent, the correction was to occur only after the Dow had reached 40,000/41,000 and the Nasdaq 13,500-20,000. I think it’s safe to say that an idiot could predict a correction if the Dow were to soar to 40,000 and the Nasdaq to 20,000 by 2008-2010. Thus, Dent only felt that a correction would occur due to the rapid appreciation of these markets.
Furthermore, in The Great Boom Ahead Dent claims a “downturn” will occur in 2010 due to the retirement of the baby boomers. This is completely ridiculous, as the baby boomers only began to retire in 2010. Any real significant economic effects due to the retirement of baby boomers would only be felt after several millions of boomers had retired, which would push this date past 2015 in my opinion. Based on this severe oversight, it would appear that Dent lacks a good deal of common sense. And his demographics arguments are so simplistic that they serve no utility. For instance, Dent doesn’t account for changing patterns of immigration over the decades, the impact of free trade and many other factors. As a result, Dent’s own claims that he predicted the collapse are completely invalid in my opinion.
If you read what Dent says about his track record, you will notice he is always spinning things to make unsuspecting sheep think that he has been right about everything.
A few years after Dent released this book, he was propelled as a pitch man for Wall Street and the mutual fund industry. He became a media whore on the Bubble Network (CNBC). Using Dent’s simplistic and grossly inadequate demographic arguments as a foundation, Wall Street followed up with its own brand of demographic bologna. Notably, Ed Kerschner, once the chief Investment Strategist of PaineWebber (now UBS) was pitching similar arguments. As a result of Kerschner's sales pitch calling for a "New Economy" and the end of brick and mortar, he became one of the most highly regarded strategists on Wall Street, with numerous firms trying to lure him over. I remember this well because I was working at PaineWebber at the time.
Just as the stock market was making its lows, Kerschner was named a runner-up in 2002 in Institutional Investor magazine's survey of the top U.S. Wall Street strategists. Finally, in 2004 shortly after UBS bought PaineWebber, Kerschner was lured over to Smith Barney as its new Chief Investment Officer. Smith Barney had been courting Kerschner ever since he rolled out his delusional prophecy; a prophecy that blew up. But on Wall Street, just as in the financial media, you are rewarded not for how accurate you are but how many sheep you can lure. This my friends is how sales works.
Rather than a “New Economy” buttressed by a spending wave from baby boomers and the Internet revolution, the true force behind the bull market was a huge credit bubble created by Wall Street, commercial banks, Washington and the Federal Reserve.
If in fact Dent truly recognized the primary driving force behind the expansion of the 1990s, he would have also predicted that this bull market would come crashing down hard after 2000. Instead, by 1998 he wrote another book that predicted Dow 41,000 and Nasdaq 20,000 by 2008. He called this book The Roaring 2000s. I’ll get back to this book shortly.
Dent’s simplistic approach to predicting complex trends is a common tactic used by snake oil salesmen because they want to appeal to the largest number of prospects. The sales strategy is to hook as many fish as possible so you want to design a net that catches the largest number of fish. That means you must keep things simple.
While Dent’s demographic arguments are much too simple to provide any real predictive power, he certainly does a great job selling his ideas. And that’s all he cares about because most people have short memories when it comes to track records. It’s all about convincing people that your snake oil will make those who buy it rich.
His next book was The Great Jobs Ahead (1996). As we know, instead of a period of great jobs, we have seen the exact opposite. Remember, NAFTA was signed in 1992. So if Dent understood what was really going on, the title of his book would have been China: The Great Jobs Ahead.
In his next book, The Roaring 2000s (published in 1998, 1999 and 2000), Dent predicts the Dow to reach 41,000 and the Nasdaq to reach 20,000 by 2008 (another version has the Nasdaq at 45,000 by the same year). Of course we all know what happened in 2000. The following year, things got much worse. By October 2002, the market hit its lows, the Dow below 8000 and the Nasdaq below 2000.
Interestingly, in The Roaring 2000s Dent gave some general investment advice that apparently he no longer agrees with:
1) Use buy and hold strategies, don't try to time the market;
2) Use mutual funds to most efficiently diversify your holdings;
3) Use asset allocation. The greatest returns result from the correct asset allocation.
Back then, Dent was a hack for the mutual fund industry. But as you can imagine, the industry dumped him into the ocean after his insane forecasts blew up in his face. As you will see shortly, he made one last attempt to jump aboard the mutual fund gravy train.
After hiding his head for a few years, Dent was at it again just as any good salesman would be. It’s common knowledge that the stock market enters a bullish trend after being sliced up during a bear market. After all, this is the basis of the bull-bear market cycle. So Dent seized on the opportunity of a market that had already bottomed by pumping out a new book called The Next Great Bubble Boom published late 2004. Again Dent predicts the Dow to hit 40,000 this time by 2010, and the Nasdaq to reach at least 13,500 and potentially 20,000 by 2009.
If you keep predicting Dow 40,000 it will eventually happen. In the meantime you can lose a great deal of money. This was Dent’s last attempt to gain favor with the mutual fund industry but they weren’t listening. As you will see, Dent decided to join the doomer crowd and target Main Street sheep after seeing how that route had expanded over the years.
Let’s have a look at the inside flap of this book. This material is typically written by the author and reedited by the publisher to ensure the maximum amount of spin.
“Harry S. Dent has been among the most successful forecasters of his time: His books The Great Boom Ahead and The Roaring 2000s predicted the 1990s boom ahead of anyone else.”
[Notice how he states that The Roaring 2000s “predicted the 1990s boom.” Really? You see, Dent is trying to spin the facts, as The Roaring 2000s was published between 1998 and 2000, at the peak of the boom. The fact is that this book focused on his prediction of Dow 40,000 and Nasdaq 20,000 by 2008 (revised later to 2010.]
“In this new, provocative look at the coming years, Dent again casts his discerning contrarian eye on what he sees as the good times to come—and the woes to follow.”
[Okay so we all know that booms and busts occur. Dent dramatizes this evitable economic cycle in order to link his basic demographic arguments to this cycling. But let’s see what he has to say.]
“Among his key predictions:
• A third and final bubble takes the Dow to 35,000 to 40,000 and the Nasdaq to 13,000 by late 2009 or early 2010.”
[The market peaked in late 2007 at 14,200 while the Nasdaq topped 2860, but that’s okay. He was off by a few years. The key point to remember is that neither the Dow nor the Nasdaq came nowhere near to his ridiculous predictions. Keep in mind that these forecasts were absolutely critical to his prediction of a downturn thereafter. Furthermore, he never identified the real causes of the collapse. If he had done so, he would have advised readers to short Fannie and Freddie.
“• A second technology boom brings cellular, Internet, and broadband connections to 90% of U.S. households by 2009.”
[Is this supposed to be a credible prediction? A child could have made this conclusion.]
“• Inflation falls into early 2006 and rises mildly into 2009; then we see deflation between 2010 and 2023.”
[Wrong again. Similar to the deflationists out there, Dent fails to understand that the Federal Reserve and Washington would never let this happen.]
“• Another devastating crash occurs between 2010 and 2012, which ushers in a thirteen-year bear market into 2022.”
[Wrong again so far anyway]
“• Technology, financial services, health care, and Asia will be the best sectors from 2005 to 2009. Long-term bonds, health care, and Asia will be the best after 2009.”
Once again, Dent looked like a fool.
Have a look what some people had to say about the book. I find it encouraging to see that not everyone is a sheep and not everyone has a short memory.
Finally Dent realized that he needed to change course so he came out with his depression book, The Great Depression Ahead in January 2009 after the depression had already begun, after countless books had been written.
Notice how the FOX airhead bimbo reporter states “I read your bio, it’s rather impressive and you were predicting all sorts of things when everyone told you you were going to be wrong and you were right.” What a complete joke.
She read his bio. That’s the problem. She read what Dent had to say about himself. She didn’t verify his bio because she’s too stupid, lazy and irresponsible. It should be obvious that bimbo is on TV to appeal to guys who like easy girls.
Can you believe that Dent is actually attributing the depression to a decrease in spending due to demographics? Harry, consumers are not spending because they are deleveraging. This is the typical response after a credit bubble implodes. I made this prediction in AFA when I stated that the wealth effect would be transformed into the poor effect.
Note how the date of the interview was January 29, 2009 and Dent is predicting a bounce in the markets “over the next 3 to 6 months people should use that as an opportunity to sell their stocks and get into cash and wait….we expect a bounce into late this year (2009), early 2010 at the latest, then the economy turns back down and the Dow to falls to 3800.”
Okay, so you need to recall what was going on with the markets at that time. The momentum was down severely. So Dent predicted a rally over the next 3-6 months (as long as 11 or 12 months) because he wanted to go with the odds. Since the market had already declined from 14,200 in October 2007, all the way down to 8000 by January 2009, the odds were that the market would rally because there really hadn’t been any strong rallies all the way down some 44%. What Dent failed to understand is that his bet that the market would rally from there was only valid if you use the coin flip approach.
So what happened? There was NO bounce. Over the next five weeks the Dow collapsed by another 20% sending it down to 13-year lows at just over 6400 by early March. This was right about the level that I had predicted in AFA and later revised slightly upward in mid-2008. Finally, just when the Dow was at 6500 I told the world to start buying gradually.
[Unfortunately, very few heard me because I had already been censored by virtually the entire internet by then. I had already been banned by the criminal media scumbags prior to that for absolutely no reason whatsoever, other than the fact that I have real credibility, no bias or agendas, and could not be bought off.]
So ask yourself what would you have done if you had listened to Dent. He was plastered all over the TV, not me. Remember, he basically called an intermediate-term bottom at the end of January 2009 when the Dow was at 8000. And he expected the Dow to mount a strong rally over the next several months. This rally would be the time to sell.
In other words, Dent did not tell investors to sell at 8000. He claimed that the Dow would mount a strong rally over the next 3-6 months which might last through late 2009 or early 2010. At that point it would collapse to 3800.
But the Dow cratered by 21% within a month after Dent made this prediction. And if you believed Dent’s warning that the Dow would head to 3800, you would have probably sold in panic right around the market lows, thinking you would be saving your portfolio from another 41% loss. It is fair to say that most sheep who watched and believed Dent would have sold close to the bottom because Dent’s ultimate forecast was Dow 3800 “give or take.”
Let’s say that you didn’t panic sell in March 2009. At the 2-minute mark in the video Dent says this rally he is expecting will go to around 11,000 then the market will crash to around 3800. Dent says you should sell and then stay in cash. But he likes the US dollar.
Let’s have a look. As you can see, the dollar declined after Dent stated he liked it.
To demonstrate the difference between night and day, I stated on May 5, 2008 that investors should stay out of the market and get ready for a collapse down the road. In the meantime, the more daring should look to oil, gold, commodities, the yen and franc and select healthcare, all while going short the financials.
Here is a concluding excerpt from my May 5, 2008 article “Stay Clear of Traditional US Assets.”
“With rare exception, investors should stay clear of traditional asset classes. If you haven’t already done so, you’d be wise to invest in commodities, gold, oil trusts, and foreign currencies (Yen and Swiss Franc). In addition, investors without short investment horizons should have some exposure in China and Latin America. Keeping cash on hand is also advised. When the market sells off, you may choose to buy in. But don’t expect it to last. Buying the U.S. market after sell offs and moving to cash after rebounds is the best way to navigate this storm. A buy-and-hold strategy will crush most investors. Once rates begin to soar, Washington will no longer be able to suppress inflation data. At that point TIPS will be a good investment. Over the next decade, I expect gold, select foreign currencies, oil trusts, TIPS, Chinese and Latin American equities to significantly outperform the U.S. stock market. Watch out though, because if things get really bad, the entire world will be affected. But that will represent a buying opportunity in Chinese and Brazilian equities.”
In the video, Dent only mentions a small bias towards gold and commodities AFTER the bimbo brings it up. In other words, gold and commodities should only be a small investment. Notice how Dent states that he likes gold and silver as a hedge against a falling US dollar. But earlier, he said he liked the US dollar. Confused? So is Dent.
The fact is that neither gold nor silver hedges against a weak dollar. Gold serves as a hedge against market declines. Meanwhile, oil and commodities are the absolute best hedge against a falling dollar. This is something credible investment professionals and economists know. Dent calls himself an economist. Based on the general uselessness exhibited by the vast majority of economists, he fits the bill.
Then Dent goes on to say that he only likes commodities (including gold and silver) through late 2009, early 2010 the most. Therefore, Dent missed the big rise in gold and especially silver.
Remember, the so-called experts in the media are marketers, not true economic or investment experts. They are marketing experts. And marketing experts always hit the speaker circuit. Have a look at Peter Schiff for instance. For the paltry sum of $25,000 Peter will speak to your group. You will hear his played out humpty-dumpty stories about debt and the Federal Reserve. He will give you the same trash over and over. Schiff is very predictable because he is a salesman. And in order to become a good salesman, you must stick to a limited pitch and practice it over and over. I was never really interested in sales. I always felt you had to be at least a bit dishonest in order to succeed. I haven’t changed my view.
Of course speaking for groups isn’t the only thing Schiff does. Every day he broadcasts a two-hour long radio show which I’m sure requires at least a couple of hours prep work. As well, he makes his daily YouTube video and pumps out a nicely polished article once a week. The articles always say the same thing and never help anyone understand what’s going on. You wont see any real forecasts, no real insight. What you will see is a marketing piece that’s appears to have received fine tuning from a PR firm (probably Andrew Schiff’s touch). And we can’t forget about Schiff’s regular media appearances and (gold and bear market) conferences. But he also has to run a small but growing brokerage firm. Just a few years ago, Schiff’s firm had only four employees. But thanks to his Jewish friends in the media who gave him underserved airtime over and over, he has expanded to well over 150 as the CNBC and FBN sheep have sent him their money. Schiff also has a gold company. Where does he come up with any time to do research? I think you know the answer to that question.
Dent really isn’t much different. He spends a lot more of his time on the speaking circuit when he is able to find suckers willing to pay his ridiculous fees.
The fact is that real experts don’t make a living as speakers, whether they are paid or on the media. It’s obvious that Dent is a complete marketer just as is the case with Schiff and the rest of the crew.
The key to their strategy is to flood every possible media venue with a sales pitch that has been disguised as valuable insight because sales and marketing is a numbers game. Dent is even offering his “bag of gold” wealth training to personal development websites; you know, these are the companies that cater to the biggest get-rich-quick sheep on planet Earth, the MLM guys, the real estate millionaires, the cash flow magic guys.
On one of these sites for instance, along with Dent’s Prosper in the Downturn self-help instructional audio series, you will also find Robert Kiyosaki, David Bach, Tony Robbins and other clowns pitching their “secrets” to riches. If you’re wondering why Donald Trump isn’t there, remember that Trump has his own platform so he has no need to share revenues with venders. The Trump illusion and shady “branding” deals he has become involved with have reached a historic level.
Dent has even endorsed one of these online marketing get-rich-quick “gurus.” Have a look.
Let’s think about the timing of Dent’s books for a moment. While I was releasing America’s Financial Apocalypse in November 2006, Dent had just released a book a little over a year earlier that had predicted some amazing period of economic growth and a stock market that would swell into the next dimension; Dow 40,000 and Nasdaq 20,000 – the same predictions he made in 1998, 1999 and 2000 with The Roaring 2000s.
After making a complete fool of himself several times over, Dent isn’t finished because he still has plenty of sheep who are too naïve, lazy and unintelligent to actually examine his track record. Others have allowed him to talk his way out of the corner of shame so they actually believe his BS. Just released in April 2011 is another rehashed book, The Great Debt Crisis Ahead.
Wait a minute. Aren’t we already in a debt crisis? On the other hand, if the worst Dent does is come out with a hindsight book and spin it as something new, it should be considered a success for Dent given his miserable track record.
Have a look at the cover of this book. I cannot recall ever seeing a more arrogant expression. Perhaps Dent has convinced himself that he’s been right more often than wrong. Hey Harry, if you are going to take a mug shot like that, at least make sure you have a respectable track record Mr. Dow 40,000.
Let’s read what Dent says about himself so we can see how he continues to spin his terrible track record.
Let’s have a look at the “About the Author” section.
“HARRY S. DENT, JR. is recognized as one of the most reliable economic and business trend forecasters of our time.”
[Compared to whom? Larry Kudlow? Dent’s forecasts are more valuable if you do the opposite of what he says.]
“He has been profiled and quoted in Fortune, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, and Entrepreneur and regularly appears on CNN, Fox, and CNBC.”
[Of course he has been featured in the media because he is a clown. The media wants clowns and hacks because this steers Main Street into the hands if Wall Street. Notice how he tries to validate himself by stating his acceptance by the media. This is a common trick practiced by clowns who have no real value to add. Whenever you see a person or website brag about the media exposure it should tell you they are useless. Such individuals are merely trying to build credibility by posting their acceptance by the criminal and irresponsible media industry.]
“He is a Fortune 100 consultant, small business manager, new venture investor, and noted speaker and has a Harvard MBA.”
[Complete fluff. And as far as his educational “credentials,” if I am searching for a proficient individual to run a business or manage my assets, having an MBA is actually a disadvantage in my book.]
“He stood virtually alone in forecasting the unanticipated boom of the 1990s in his book The Great Boom Ahead.”
[Dent forgets to mention that his rationale was absolutely wrong and very deficient. Furthermore, the market either goes up or down, so you have a 50/50 chance of predicting the direction. That means you need to get the details right. When you become a media whore who is bullish on Wall Street, you will make a good deal of money from being their pitchman. This explains the motivation behind Dent’s prediction.]
“He also predicted a downturn in the US that would start around 2008.”
[What is a “downturn”? Notice the use of the word. Does a downturn mean a depression? Is it the most severe recession in 100 years? Notice the phrase “start around 2008.” Dent is using another play on words. The fact is that Dent did NOT predict the collapse with any level of credibility. Forget the fact that he was off by a few years because that does not matter. What matters is that Dent did not predict the real estate bubble would lead to the depression. He did not predict the MBS market would implode. He did not predict the financial crisis. He did not predict real estate would collapse by 35%. He did not predict the Dow would collapse to the low 6000s. He did not predict Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be bailed out. He did not advice investors to buy at 6500. These are predictions and recommendations that I made.]
“In 1989, when Japan looked invincible, he forecasted that the Land of the Rising Sun was on the verge of a 12 to14-year downturn, which followed in short order. He offers a refreshingly understandable view of how the economy works and suggests practical applications at all levels, uniquely using the science of demographics to identify changing trends and opportunities.”
[“Science of Demographics”?… Nice try Harry, but looking at the U.S. Census stats and media wages to come up with GDP is not a science.]
“He has proven that by using his approach to understanding the economy you can foresee the key economic trends that will impact your life, your business, and your investments over the rest of your life.”
[Sure. Just like how the Dow and Nasdaq soared to 40,000 and 20,000 respectively in 2008, or just like you predicted the global collapse?]
Dent is by no means finished. He has another book scheduled for release in October 2011, called The Great Deflation Ahead.
Dent is hitting on all cylinders now that the depression trend is in full force as a way to help people forget about his miserable predictions. He figures that by flooding people with countless books over and over, he will be remembered as one of the few who predicted the depression since most people look back and don’t recall who said what when. The sheep believe whatever the media says. And since Dent is a member of the media club, he’s well-positioned to inappropriately be remembered as one who predicted this collapse.
What I’m wondering is where Dent is getting the time to release so many books. Once you realize that he has the assistance of a staff of editors and writers from his publisher and the fact that he keeps recycling material, you will understand how is able to pump out so many books.
Perhaps Dent’s biggest flaw is that he actually thinks he can predict the year that the stock market will crash in advance. Unless you have a crystal ball, it’s simply not possible. But you see, Dent relies on his demographics hocus pocus, which has proven to be wrong more than right. And he makes these predictions simply to suck people into his lair of disastrous investment recommendations and ridiculously overpriced services.
Is Dent successful? Sure, if you consider selling lots of snake oil a success. Anyone who was unfortunate enough to have wasted their time reading Dent’s books realizes how wrong he has been.
So how has he been able to make so much money? It certainly hasn’t been by following his own investment advice. As you will later see, Dent used to have a mutual fund that performed so poorly it shut down. And he recently released an ETF that has performed miserably.
So what’s the source of his gravy train? The media of course. If you have the exposure of the media you can sell shit on a stick and call it a delicious treat and you’ll make a fortune. Why? Because the media reaches millions of people, and so even if you can dupe only a few percent, you’ll rake in the cash.
The marketers all know this and that’s why they could give a rat’s ass about anything other than selling you a story line, but it has to be filled with drama. The media loves drama because people line up for it. And the larger the audience, the more money the media takes in from advertisements.
If you check Dent’s website (www.hsdent.com) you will notice he proudly posts an endorsement by the CEO of Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana. First, with all of Dent’s exposure and connections, doesn’t it seem odd that he wasn’t able to land a big name endorsement?
Perhaps they don’t want to be associated with “Mr. Dow 40,000.”
If you check the web site of Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana, you might agree that it’s obvious that this is a rather small company. The site looks like it was made in 1994.
Also notice how Dent provides “educational” seminars and “demographics training” through his “demographics school.” It sounds similar to Trump University to me. Shockingly, Dent has managed to have these courses approved by CFP Continuing Education. That’s right folks, you actually have some CFPs being brainwashed by Dent’s trash. This might account for one reason why so many CFPs have no idea about managing investments (although I certainly don’t want to include ALL CFPs). If your CFP has attended Dent’s seminars or buys into his line of thought, I would advise you to park your investments somewhere else.
Next, notice how Dent endorses EverBank. If you click the link below the banner you will see that he is in an affiliate program with EverBank. Since he discloses this it’s legal. But is it ethical. And is it responsible?
Searching around a bit more on the site and you’ll notice that Dent has a “financial advisor” network. These are financial advisors who pay Dent a fee for his “research” and “forecasts;” basically, clueless financial advisors. Since his site is being upgraded, the financial advisor database isn’t yet active. But I would advise you to check back and see if your adviser is listed. If he or she is, I would part ways immediately.
And of course we see Dent’s speaking fees. Notice how he lists several large corporations that he has spoken to, but you won’t find any endorsements by CEOs of these companies. I wonder why. The deal is this. First, if you are a large company and some guy comes out with a fairy tale talking about how U.S. consumers are going to spend to the moon, you might want to invite this man to speak before your company to motivate and excite your employees. Thus, Dent is likely to have spoken in front of these companies several years ago. I doubt he has had any contact with these companies in years.
And remember how I discussed that Dent was a pitch man for Wall Street and the mutual fund industry? After you examine the list in the image above, you will confirm this.
Next, I discuss Dent’s other role as a fund manager. Stay tuned because you’re going to love this. Take a look here.
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