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OPINION

Inside investment: Save or speculate?

David Ricardo’s counsel of despair on the fate of the working man should also give investors food for thought, writes Lincoln Rathnam.

Will the working man always eat stale bread?

A couple of weeks ago I was surfing around the cable TV stations having grown tired of whatever I was watching (I think it was the Xena: Warrior Princess marathon on SciFi) and I chanced upon the Suze Orman Show on CNBC. Suze is a self-styled investment lifestyle guru with a successful call-in show. She believes that trying to outperform markets is fruitless and investors should focus on their level of savings and keeping them safe.

Suze is famous for yelling out "Denied! Denied!" when a caller asks if it would be wise to buy a car or new house or commit themselves to the expense of having children. She believes that the average Jane and Joe Sixpack should save a lot and make sure they keep money safe rather than speculate in markets where they would probably lose. She offers the same counsel to the chardonnay-quaffing crowd, by the way.

On this particular occasion Suze was advising that US investors buy only municipal bonds and pointing out that she recommends this simple policy both at market peaks and troughs. She has been ridiculed for it but she feels justified.