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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Biblical investing

This is so much a self-parody I can’t resist posting this email ad:

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(posting this as an image so the spam link isn’t live) 

I admit I haven’t watched Sean’s presentation, but it’s interesting to speculate on what might be in there:

1. Some sort of good, innocent advice, like this advice to invest in a good wife (Proverbs 31):

10 Who can find a virtuous woman?
for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,
so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil
all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax,
and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships;
she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night,
and giveth meat to her household,
and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it:
with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength,
and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good:
her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle,
and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household:
for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry;
her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it;
and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing;
and she shall rejoice in time to come.

(although it sounds like this woman is working awfully hard while her husband sits at the gates with the elders, but that’s management for you)

2. Another possibility is some arcane code indicating buy and sell signals (Ecclesiastes 3):

3 To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

(The Byrds had a nice hit song from this some years back.)  I don’t see anything specific in here about whether I should sell my McDonald’s stock, but then I’m not Sean.

3. A third possibility is using the Bible as some sort of I Ching, and opening up to find a passage at random. Let’s give this a try.  My Jerusalem Bible fell open to Psalm 110 (although this is the King James below):

1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6 He shall judge among the heathen,
he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook in the way:
therefore shall he lift up the head.

That seems bullish for domestic stocks, bearish for foreign ones (other kings not doing so well).

While I’m making fun of it here, the whole enterprise of getting investment advice out of the Bible seems pretty sacreligious to me.  We’re supposed to be laying up treasures in heaven, not here. Certainly one can get advice on how to be an ethical business person from the Bible (starting with the ten commandments), but it seems unlikely to be in God’s plan to figure out how to make us billionaires.