Betting on the world’s greatest companies during times of turmoil

War in Ukraine, inflation, and internal political strife. The world seems to be in disarray, so what to do with our investments? Maybe a story from Warren Buffet can provide us some wisdom and perspective:

During a 2018 conference, Buffett told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders the story of his first investment.

In 1942 Buffett was 11 years old and had been working hard to save up some money to make his first investment, three shares of Cities Service for $115.

He said that if he had instead invested that money in an S&P 500 Index fund, that by 2019 it’d be worth $607,000.

What if he had instead sought “safety” in chaotic times and invested in gold? By 2019 it would be worth $4,200. 1

If he kept it in cash? Well…. it would still be $115.

That investment growth would occur despite:

  • A World War that killed tens of millions; a war in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East; and a Cold War.
  • Inflation as high as 13.5% through the ‘70s & ‘80s,2 an oil embargo that caused gas prices to rise 350%,3 and the greatest economic recession since the great depression.
  • A president assassinated, a president impeached and resigned, another president shot, riots in Los Angeles, and terrorist attacks in New York.

And yet, in those turbulent years, humanity pushed forward:

  • The global economy grew from $1.3 trillion in 1960 to $85.9 trillion in 2019, despite the world’s population only growing 2.5 times.4
  • Global poverty (people living on less than $2/day adjusted for inflation) went from about 70% of people in 1950 to less than 5% in 2019.5
  • Global literacy rose from 42% in 1960 to over 86% by 2019.6
  • U.S. life expectancy climbed from 67 years old in 1950 to 78 years today.7
The rise of the stock market isn’t some abstraction or rich people engineering ways to get richer. It’s a reflection of an improving human condition around the world, despite the challenges we have faced along the way.

That’s why our investment thesis, like Buffet’s, is simple: We believe humans will continue solve today’s problems and innovate for a better future.

We believe humans will continue solve today’s problems and innovate for a better future.

So we let our money tag along for the ride—investing in some of the largest, best-run, and most innovative companies in the world over long periods of time.

That’s it.

As history has taught us, optimism is the only realism.

As always feel free to share this with someone who might find it interesting. If you have questions regarding this post, please feel free reach out.

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Calvin McKenney

Author: Calvin McKenney

Cal is a financial advisor at Fortune Financial in Minnetonka, Minn. When you work with Cal, you receive a lifelong ally who is committed to listening to you, researching your options, weighing tried and true methods with the latest strategies, and finally, empowering you to make a decision that supports your overall wellbeing.

Calvin is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC.

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results.  This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any funds or stocks in particular, nor should it be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested.

Cal is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc. 4502303/DOFU 3-2022

1“Warren Buffett Has Warned against Hoarding Cash, Gold, or Bitcoin during Wars – and Touted Stocks as the Safest Long-Term Bet.” Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo!,

2“Consumer Price Index, 1913.” Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis,

3“Energy Crisis.” National Museum of American History, 1 Apr. 2021,

4World Bank, as of 12/31/19. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the monetary value of all finished goods and services made during a specific period, usually annually., World Bank, 2019. Extreme poverty is defined as living at consumption (or income) level below 1.90 “international $” per day. International dollars are adjusted for price differences between countries and inflation.

6Middle Class Data: OECD and UNESCO, 12/31/19, Population Data: World Bank: Health Nutrition and Population Statistics. Most recent data available. Forecasts may not be achieved. E = Estimate. There is no guarantee the outlook mentioned will come to pass.

7O’Neill, Aaron. “United States: Life Expectancy 1860-2020.” Statista, 3 Feb. 2021,