About Jeff Yastine
I like to think of myself as a former financial journalist who not only interviewed many of the world’s top stock market experts, entrepreneurs and financiers, but also took their advice to heart in becoming a successful investor himself.
I studied journalism at the University of Florida, and upon graduation, became a local television reporter working in markets like the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. In 1993, I joined the staff of PBS’ nationally-broadcast Nightly Business Report as the program’s Miami-based national correspondent and anchor. At the time, the newscast was the most-watched daily financial broadcast in the world, with a viewership of more than a million homes a night.
As the program’s roving national correspondent, I was able to help identify early investment opportunities for NBR’s viewers — companies that would go on to become huge stock market winners, including Intuitive Surgical, SBA Communications, Petmed Express, Lennar Corp., Mako Surgical (acquired by Stryker Corp.), Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and others.
I also had the opportunity to interview some of the most famous people in the world of finance, business and economics — Warren Buffett, Michael Dell, Sir Richard Branson, John Bogle (founder of low-cost mutual fund giant Vanguard Group), Bill Gross (founder of bond mutual fund giant PIMCO), Wayne Huizenga (billionaire founder of Waste Management), Herb Kelleher (founder of Southwest Airlines), Frank Perdue (Perdue Chicken), former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and many others.
I also learned a great deal about the academic and international sides of finance and the markets. I once interviewed Nobel Prize laureate Richard Thaler, winner of the 2017 prize for his work in behavioral economics, as well as numerous Federal Reserve board members like Alice Rivlin (1996-1999), and a plethora of senators, congressman and governors.
Today, as the editor of Total Wealth Insider, I am honored to use all of this life experience to help everyday Americans protect and grow their wealth by investing in safe, stable companies that offer tremendous value to investors.
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My involvement with the stock market started with the market crash of 1987. I was all of 23 years old at the time, and working at the NBC affiliate television station in Fort Myers, Florida. I owned no stocks at all.
But the crash left a turbulent wake of fear and worry in its path. I remember one of the station’s news anchors at the time being absolutely frantic about the huge one-day 25% drop in the value of his stock market holdings, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of retirees who lived in the area. The crash spurred my own interest in how the markets worked, and how value is created and subsequently destroyed, depending on the short-term sentiment and expectations of stock investors.
Not long after, I purchased my first stock, Wal-Mart. I didn’t lose money, but I didn’t make much either. It was my first exposure to one of the hardest rules of investing: The biggest gains come with holding periods of years and years. If you sell too early (or in the middle of a clear “uptrend”), you’ll rob yourself of the bigger gains of a more patient investor.
I learned the benefits of that lesson. And I absorbed similar mantras preached by many of the famous investors I was beginning to interview while working as a reporter at PBS Nightly Business Report. From 1993 to 1994, I noticed that shares of Nike had fallen out of favor as investors questioned the company’s value and long-term growth story. I was able to quintuple my investment in a matter of a few years’ time.
I also made my share of mistakes along the way, prematurely selling shares of Adobe during the run-up to the 2000 tech bubble. The lesson I learned was about dealing with volatility. Certain kinds of stocks, such as technology and biotechnology firms, are more volatile than others. When the market does well, it swings higher than others, and when the market falls, it falls faster than others. So it’s important to not accidentally “overweight” the shares of certain stocks to the point that its ups (and especially its “downs”) throw your portfolio out of your personal comfort zone.
Another mistake I made was learning (the hard way) not to be too pessimistic on the U.S. economy, and that rallies can pop up when an inexperienced investor least expects it. I remember being fairly heavily short in late 2002 (after the S&P 500 had already fallen more than 20% that year). I was betting on still-deeper declines to come in September and October, only to watch the index rally more than 20% higher through the end of the year.
I also learned the value of striking at the point of maximum pessimism when it comes to investing for value and growth. In 2003, shares of McDonald’s had fallen to their lowest point in a decade amid worries that the fast-food company had lost its way with franchisees and healthier-eating consumers.
But with a strong dividend and good cash flow on its income statement, it was clear to me that the company was still doing very well and would outlast its current period of underperformance. After buying the stock at $15, I more than tripled my money over the next three years.
I carry this value investing approach with me to this day, and it’s the core investing philosophy of my newsletter, Total Wealth Insider.
Latest Blog Post
When you hear people on CNBC talking about rising interest rates, this bond is really what they’re talking about. In July of 2016, the 10-year’s interest rate was 1.36%, an all-time historic low. This week, the same 10-year note pays an interest rate of double that...read more
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