Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

A Plane Ride with the President-Elect

By Jim Woods
  • A Plane Ride with the President-Elect
  • ETF Talk: Tap into the Global Gaming Craze with This ETF
  • Smoking Cigars with Saddam Hussein
  • Walking the Deep Path  

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It has been just over a week since America voted, and though the results aren’t yet officially certified, it’s a near certainty that former Vice President Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. Now, while about half of us may not like this development, we need to accept that reality is reality. Or, as Aristotle might put it, that “A is A.”

Yes, President Trump has challenged the results in key battleground states, but the way it looks now, it’s hard to see a path for the president to somehow win in the courts and be reelected. Now, that’s not just my opinion, it’s also the opinion of John Fund of National Review, who is probably the very best political analyst out there.

I spoke with John about this on Friday morning during our Post-Election Investment Summit in Las Vegas. And in the spirit of Las Vegas, John told me that, at this point, “Donald Trump would have to draw an inside straight in order to win.” And while Trump did just that in 2016, the way it looks now, the president is likely to come up with snake eyes.

So, now that we have a President-elect Biden, I thought it timely to share with you my six-hour long interaction with the man from about 12 years ago. I have written on this before, but now it seems more important than ever to get a sense of who Biden is when the public isn’t looking. And when you have a chance to exchange thoughts on a long cross-country flight, well, you can get to know someone in interesting ways.

The following is from my original article titled, “We All Scream for Ice Scream: A Joe Biden Tale.”

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You can tell a lot about a man by the way he eats.

Some men like to sit down to a meal, take their time and savor each and every morsel of food and drink. People like this tend to be thoughtful, meticulous, confident and in many cases, hedonistic. How do I know this? Well, I’ve been known to spend more time than most getting through a multi-course, wine-paired meal.

Still, other men like to dig right into their prize, attacking the meal with fervor and a literal hunger for life that reveals their carpe-diem approach to the world. This type of person tends to be decisive, purposeful, driven and a born leader. My favorite example of this type of eater is my good friend and fellow investment guru Doug Fabian.

But what do you say about a man who eats his meal in reverse order?

That thought has plagued me ever since I sat next to Sen. Joe Biden on a flight from Washington, D.C. to my hometown of Los Angeles, California. Sen. Biden was on his way to L.A. for an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” while I was returning home from my annual pilgrimage to the nation’s capital for a meeting with friends, publishers and people from some of my favorite think tanks.

After exchanging pleasantries with the senior senator from Delaware, Biden wasted no time in digging right into his criticisms of the war in Iraq, and what he perceived to be the folly of the Bush administration. I expected nothing less from the senator, as he’s known for his outspoken critiques and his shoot-from-the-hip commentary.

What I didn’t expect was a lesson in how to eat a meal backwards.

Now, since I had the benefit of first-class seating accommodations during this journey, the flight attendants were very conscientious when it came to serving what was a surprisingly tasty meal.

The first course was a salad with Italian dressing, which was followed by a main course of a plump, well-seasoned chicken breast and a side of rice. The best part of the meal for me was the dessert, which was a generous scoop of gourmet chocolate ice cream.

I ate my meal with my usual casualness, and in the aforementioned order. Sen. Biden, however, took a different path. Biden accepted the salad, but he put it aside and saved it for later. When the main course came, he politely rejected it. But when the ice cream came, Biden’s fervent personality really came out. He emphatically asked for a serving, although he had not yet eaten any food.

Biden ate his ice cream while we discussed Kevin Phillips’ book “American Theocracy,” the then-latest critique of the Bush administration’s religious overtones. After eating the ice cream, Biden pulled out a hefty ham sandwich from his briefcase and consumed it in a deliberate and determined fashion. Once the sandwich disappeared, the senator turned to the only remaining bit of food left on his tray table, the salad.

As I watched this reverse-order meal consumption, a thought occurred to me: Is this why the federal government is so screwed up? Is Sen. Biden’s backwards approach to a meal indicative of what’s wrong with Washington? Does this backwards eating pattern explain why the government does everything less efficiently and less effectively than the private sector?

Given my theories on discerning knowledge of a person based on how they eat, what was I to make of Sen. Biden’s meal habits? The only logical conclusion is that Biden looks at the world — shall we say — differently from the rest of us. And while there is nothing wrong with a little different perspective on things, I don’t think I want someone a heartbeat away from the presidency who eats his ice cream first.

The next thing you know is that person will advocate raising taxes to stimulate the economy, negotiating with our ideological enemies as a means of portraying strength and railing against judges who think interpreting the Constitution is the only proper function of the courts.

Wait a second… that’s what Biden wants?

I knew there was a reason why he ate the ice cream first.

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ETF Talk: Tap into the Global Gaming Craze with This ETF

The Wedbush ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF (NYSEARCA: GAMR) tracks an equity index of global firms that support, create or use video games.

The stocks held in the portfolio are assigned to pure play, non-pure play or conglomerate baskets, and weighted equally within each. GAMR assigning stocks into various categories is a common allocation in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with narrow themes.

The fund’s holdings can be divided into three categories, with the “pure-play bucket” holding hardware and software game developers, including virtual reality firms; the “non-pure-play bucket” is for stocks that support the pure-play firms with intellectual property (IP); and the “conglomerate bucket” features large stocks that more broadly support the video game space.

With the index provider making these assignments, GAMR is heavily weighted in the first two buckets that encompass 90% of its holdings and are apportioned by market-capitalization relative to the whole index. Conglomerates get just 10% which keeps big, diffuse names from dominating its overall holdings. Stocks within each individual bucket are equally weighted. The ETF charges a somewhat high fee, which is not unusual for narrow niche funds with little competition.

The ETF has had impressive returns for the last few years as the image below shows.

Source: Stocknews.com

The fund has $132 million in assets under management, a 0.20% average spread and 91 holdings. Its expense ratio is 0.75%, meaning it is expensive to hold relative to other exchange-traded funds. With a yield of 0.58%, it last paid a dividend of $0.21 on Sept. 15. GAMR currently trades around $68.

Source: StockCharts.com

To sum up, GAMR provides pure-play and diversified exposure to a dynamic intersection of technology and entertainment. It is the first ETF to target the video game technology industry. The video game industry has amassed more than one billion loyal users and influences many other tech industries such as virtual reality software and cloud-based services. The fund captures a $127 billion global industry, which according to etfmg.com, is estimated to grow 49% by 2025.

The ETF seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the EEFund Video Game Tech Index. The index is designed to reflect the performance of companies involved in the video game technology industry, including game developers, console and chip manufacturers and game retailers.

This is a promising fund in a burgeoning market, however, please exercise your own due diligence in deciding whether or not this fund fits your individual investing and portfolio needs.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

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Smoking Cigars with Saddam Hussein

Today is Veterans Day, so let me first start by giving all of my fellow veterans a big shout out. For most of us, it was a job we did that we both loved and hated (veterans will know exactly what I mean).

It’s also a job that we took immense pride in, because we swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I can’t think of a better set of principles to preserve than those enumerated in that brilliant document.

Now, given that it is Veterans Day, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the debut of the newest episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast.

Ask yourself this: What was it like to be responsible for guarding the highest-profile prisoner of the Iraq War? That’s a fascinating question, and the answer is equally fascinating, equally complex, and equally spellbinding.

In this episode, I speak with Kelly Hillyer, the U.S. Army officer in charge of Saddam Hussein’s security detail.

And while you might initially think guarding a tyrant would be an austere detail, what you’ll discover is that the job was much more nuanced, and much more human, than you can imagine. From smoking cigars together, to reading poetry, the two men developed a relationship that is guaranteed to surprise you.

Very few people have the opportunity to do something as unique and with as much historical significance as Kelly Hillyer. And in this episode, you’ll find out just how this exemplary soldier handled the difficult duty with class, skill, and with true American virtue.

So, get ready to be riveted by my conversation with Kelly Hillyer.

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Walking the Deep Path

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway on the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

–Henry David Thoreau

Living the lives we really want isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. And while it’s difficult to do, it’s really not that hard to know what to do. You see, in order to live how we want, we have to continuously think the kind of positive, goal-oriented, rational thoughts that we know are the keys to living our best lives.

Yes, I know it’s not easy to let good thoughts dominate our lives, especially given all of the truly negative, ugly and destructive thoughts around us. But if we want to achieve happiness and a sense of rational pride in our lives, we must allow our best thoughts to dominate our psyche. In doing so, we will spread those best thoughts to those we love, and by extension, to the rest of the world.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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