It’s a Bad Idea to Ridicule Others (They May Be Right)

Via Andrew Sullivan, a video showing how Peter Schiff, a.k.a. “permabear” and “Dr. Doom,” was subjected to an extraordinary level of derision on cable business programs last year as he correctly forecast the coming economic crisis.

It’s longish (10 minutes) but offers a powerful statement about why it’s generally a bad idea to ridicule people with whom you disagree. Two snippets jump out at me, the first starting at about 3:15, where multiple panelists cackle in the rudest way imaginable throughout this statement by Peter Schiff:

“Most of the profits in real estate are going to vanish, just like the profits in the dot-coms in 1999-2000. It’s a fantasy, people can’t sell their homes, the inventory is exploding all over the country, houses are on the market for six months and there are no bidders — the prices are going to go through the floor.”

Advantage: Schiff. Another point that struck me begins at 6:30, in an August 2007 broadcast, where Ben Stein offers his best pick for an undervalued stock: “I particularly like Merrill Lynch, an astonishingly well-run company … they might as well be putting it in cereal boxes and giving it away, that’s how cheap it is.” As he speaks, data on the screen show that MER closed at $76.04 that day, down from a high of $98.68 earlier in the year.

Ouch. At least I didn’t buy more Merrill stock that day, but as I’ve written before, I sure do wish I had sold the modest cache of shares in my Merrill pension account. Today’s price is about $13.