The American Dream: An Exclusive Interview with Taylor Kee

Gracious. Well-spoken. Passionate about our economy…

Hands down, Taylor Kee is the best boss I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for.

As the associate publisher and editor of Money Morning Investment Research, Taylor was responsible for helping set us up. Yes, laying the foundation for the publication we are today.   

To say I’m immensely grateful for his guidance and leadership would be an understatement.

Those of you who had the benefit of signing up for our inaugural research service — Small-Cap Speculator — will already know what a brilliant analyst he is.

Like a forensic investigator, Taylor has this uncanny ability to dig deep, discovering surprising truths that go beyond the mainstream headlines. His financial reporting is always astute, always insightful, always exciting.

Little surprise, then, that Taylor’s garnered quite a fanbase. Dare I say, even a cult following!

So I thought it only appropriate that I should reach out to Taylor once more. Ask some fun questions. Get his unique take on what’s going to happen next in America, as well as the global economy.

Mm-hm. Drum roll, please!

Here’s my exclusive Q&A with Taylor Kee:  


Taylor, many of our readers were so sad to see you go. Frankly, so was I! We had an amazing time working together as colleagues at Money Morning. Lots of happy memories. What’s been your standout experience while living in New Zealand?

It was incredible to spend time in New Zealand…exploring its beautiful landscape, meeting extraordinary people and delving into its unique market…and of course, getting to write for Money Morning.

One experience that left a mark was getting to go to Techweek back in May. I got to see (and sometimes even play with) some of the world’s forefront technology:

  • Doctors operating on patients remotely from 10,000 miles away
  • Semi-trucks controlled by operators in Germany
  • Wildly fast data flowing into one of the world’s first true 5G phones

The experience not only shaped part of our Small-Cap Speculator portfolio strategy; it kindled a strong desire in me to go get my hands dirty with some of today’s top innovators.

You’ve since returned to the United States, where you’ve done an epic road trip. Yes, savouring the Interstate Highway. Zipping across state lines. And, right now, you’re settling into a new life in San Francisco. How’s the adventure going for you so far?

What a road trip it was…12,000 miles in under a month…from Mexico to Canada…from the Pacific to the Mississippi and back.

My wife and I were exploring parts of the US that we hadn’t seen before, seeing family along the way, and also keeping an eye out for a location to settle down. We kept an open mind — if a town struck us and felt right, we’d think about moving there.

In the end, we ended up just south of San Francisco…in the heart of Silicon Valley.

I was a bit star-struck, actually, passing building after building with the glowing logos of companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix…

In any restaurant, you’ll find dozens of engineers wearing their company’s swag head-to-toe. It’s almost overwhelming seeing so many smart folks and explosive companies in one place.

What a grand American odyssey! Now, of course, it’s no secret that we’re living in very interesting times now. The trade war between the United States and China is ongoing. Brexit drama is kicking into high gear. Interest rates are slipping. And yet, despite it all, some pundits insist that we’re still enjoying the economic benefits of the longest bull run since the Second World War. Is this just a mirage? Is the bear market going to pounce any day now?

That’s the $45 trillion question, isn’t it?

From here in Silicon Valley, I’ll tell you that the biggest indicator that’s flashing RED ALERT is the death of the Great American IPO.

Uber, Lyft, Pelaton…just a few examples of initial public offerings that would have skyrocketed a few years ago. Today? They’re stumbling off the starting block. It’s even starting to scare off other potential IPO-ers like Endeavor or WeWork.

Investors are holding their purses tight.

They’re not willing to overlook poor performance/net loss/unsustainable models any longer. It’s no longer assumed that every tech IPO will be the next Amazon.

People are getting defensive…which in my mind, marks the shift in the tide for this economic cycle.

Of course, it goes without saying that none of us have a crystal ball. But I’m going to ask this anyway: based on your experience, what’s the biggest economic risk that’s facing the world today? What’s really going to bite us if we don’t watch out? 

Debt. Debt. Debt. We’re all drowning in it. Households. Corporations. Governments.

And as interest rates continue to sink, we keep loading up on whatever debt we can.

That’s not really the problem. Cheap debt is handy and can fuel economic growth. The problem is that we’re all getting used to it. We’re making financial decisions based on continued cheap debt.

It’s turned chronic.

Eventually, rates will have to stop sliding. Maybe above zero. Maybe below. Where it ends up doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it will, in fact, stop. The trend of cheaper and cheaper debt will stop.

When that happens, a whole lot of businesses will stop growing. I reckon a big chunk might even start sliding backwards, even. Spending rates will slow on the consumer side. It’s not hard to guess what effect that could have on the stock markets of the world.

That’s scary to even contemplate. However, on the opposite side of the coin, what’s the biggest opportunity for the world right now? Are we actually missing out on something profound because we’re just not looking in the right direction?

I think if you look back at any economic downturn, you’ll find lots of smart investors who came out unscathed. Some even come out on top. There’s definitely a strategy to investing in times like these.

In my opinion, Simon Angelo’s Lifetime Wealth Investor does a great job of outlining that specific strategy in a practical way.  He’s wrapped his head around today’s market turmoil and picked out some really clever international plays.

So to answer your question — Yes, absolutely…something profound is happening right now. Too many folks are looking backwards at this drawn-out bull run and forgetting that cycles eventually flip.

Okay, I just want to switch gears a little bit. Get slightly philosophical. Now, as a non-American, one thing that has always fascinated me is this concept of the American Dream. It’s big. It’s mythological. It has such a fierce grip on the popular imagination. Every president — from Kennedy to Reagan to Obama to Trump — always finds himself in the position of having to define or redefine what it means. So, on an economic level, what does the American Dream mean to you? And why does it matter so much?

It’s funny. I think it used to be having a home of your own, a nice nuclear family, minimal debt, and a stable lifelong career.

Today, I don’t think it’s any of those things.

People happily live with mom and dad, load up on student debt, change careers every other year, and may not be interested in having children.

So, to me, I think it’s more about mobility. About freedom to pivot as you see fit. From an economic perspective, I think it means more gig-type jobs, more remote work, more investments for residual income, and for now, more debt.

Right. I’m thinking that if we drill the American Dream right down to its bare essence, it’s about this: if you’re talented enough and able to work hard enough, you can overcome the humble circumstances of your birth. You can rise above the status quo. You can secure the quality of life you want. So, hey, here’s my provocative question: is the American dream still alive and well today? Or is it under threat from this shifting economic environment we now live in?

I’d say yes and yes.

In my opinion, you can become successful off your own merit and talents, more so today than any other time in history.

Here in Silicon Valley, all it takes to land a well-paying position is to know a programming language or two…which can easily be achieved if you have a computer and dedication.

Obstacles to entry are historically low…so opportunities are plentiful…and the American Dream is closer than ever.

At the same time, much of America’s prosperity is parked in at-risk vessels like stocks or property. This wealth is highly dependent on a supportive economy. If things go sour…or simply don’t grow as fast as people expect…the values of houses and stocks could be under threat. Not to mention jobs.

But that’s in the short-term. In the long-term, I put a lot of faith in the market…to iron out the kinks…learn from mistakes…gradually improve our standard of living…and unleash greater freedom to pursue whatever dream we want.

And that’s also what I love about Wealth Morning. You help us all learn a little about the world of money so we can hopefully improve our circumstances along the way.

Appreciate those deep insights, Taylor! Thank you so much for generously sharing your thoughts with us.

Thanks for the chat, John!

Regards,

John Ling

Contributor, WealthMorning.com


John looks after marketing and compliance at Wealth Morning. He has worn many hats, working as a customer-service rep, captioning producer and editorial assistant. He now finds his niche in the area he’s most passionate about: digital publishing. In his free time, he’s a novelist, and his books have appeared on the USA Today and Amazon bestseller lists.


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