CLAY: We are joined now by Patrick Bet-David, founder and CEO of Valuetainment. He’s got a book out, Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy. Appreciate you joining us, Patrick. Buck and I have been trying to follow the story here of the economy, as I’m sure many of our listeners have, as we roll into 2023. What do you see out there on the horizon? What do you expect 2023 to look like from a business perspective? And thanks for making the time for us.
BET-DAVID: Well, first of all, thanks for having me. I love the work you guys are doing. But yeah, I’ll give you a couple data points for the listener to be thinking about. This is what concerns me. So if we’re looking at the Biden economy and purely his resume, he gives the inauguration speech January 20th, 2021, which is roughly two years ago, to be exact, it’s three days, two years ago. He gets it, gives a speech two months later, March 2021; we have the $1.9 trillion relief bill that they’re very excited about the next couple of months all we hear about that, the US savings rate was 26%. Everybody was celebrating.
“You see how great of an idea this is! We got to send more money to the American people. Look what’s happening. People are not spending their money. They’re saving their money. Savings rate 26%, which is beautiful.” Everybody was bragging about it. Well, fast forward to today. At that time, was 26%. Today, current savings rate is the worst it’s been in 17 years. That’s 2.4% is what we have today. Here’s another data to be thinking about. Just a year ago, Q4 of last year — so Q4 is October, November, December — we had roughly $750 billion of credit card debt.
Okay? We’re talking 13 months ago. That is not a long time ago. We went from $750 billion in credit card debt to $926 billion in credit card debt. We’re about to cross a trillion for the first time ever in the history of U.S. and credit card debt. And everybody’s talking about the national debt, $31 trillion. You know, a lot of times when people say that kind of stuff, the average family and the worker doesn’t really feel it. They’re like, “Yeah, you know, I can go on the debt clock and kind of see that website.”
But we definitely do feel the credit card debt in ways we’ve never seen before. So that’s one data that concerns me tremendously. When you see sales at 99¢ stores being up 80% year over year. That means people are no longer going and buying stuff that they were at the regular place. They’re going to places that are discounted is a sign that they’re not able to afford things. And last but not least on this topic, to be looking at when you’re thinking about this: So, everybody was bragging last year about, “Well, look at this.
“I understand what they’re talking about with inflation and what they’re doing with inflation. But you got to look at unemployment. Look how quick the numbers are on unemployment. Look how awesome it is. The economy’s doing great! The economy’s doing great!” If that was the sound bite last year, I would love to see them use that same sound bite Q3 of this year when unemployment takes a hit. They will not be talking about that. So in regards to 2023, unfortunately, it’s not looking good. The policies are not making the American economy better than it was two years ago or three years ago.
BUCK: Hey, Patrick, it’s Buck. Really appreciate you being with us. And for everyone, you should check out the Patrick Bet-David Show — PBD Show — which is an excellent podcast. Patrick, what does it mean when you’re trying to figure out what the indicators would be if things are about to get ugly in the economy? You know, what are the worry signs? You laid out for us… What you gave us is the data of where we already are.
BUCK: If we’re looking out three months, six months and we’re going head…? People are saying we’re already in some form of recession. But if we go into something more like a Biden depression, what are you looking for?
BET-DAVID: Excellent question. So, think about it this way. Collectively, beginning of 2021, us Americans, if we put all our net worth together, we were roughly worth $2.1 trillion. That’s how much cash we had — specifically cash, not net worth. Let me correct that: Specifically cash. We collectively have $2.1 trillion in cash, okay? That’s Q1 of last year, second quarter that dropped from 2.1 to 1.9. Third quarter to 1.6. And we’re getting close to $1.3 trillion of savings. That is losing nearly a trillion cash in 12 months.
So what does that mean? Why is that such a concern? Here’s what it means. Rates went up, I want to say 14 months ago, not even fourteen. Yeah, 14 months ago, we could get a nice 3% interest rate. Some even got 2.85 for 30-year fixed. Your mortgage payment is not a big mortgage payment. You can afford it. Everything was good. Property value hasn’t dropped significantly yet because people are still sitting on cash, meaning, say somebody owns a $700,000 house and it was $700,000 14 months ago.
But they’re sitting on $100,000 of cash and now 80,000, now 60,000, now 45,000, now 38,000. Now, husband and wife are sitting there talking to each other saying, “Babe, we’re trying to sell this house. No one’s buying at $750,000. Let’s lower two seven 700, let’s lower to 650. Babe, we may need to sell this thing for 580,” and then boom. It dumps at 580. How do I know that? I’ll give you a perfect example myself. Eight months ago, I went to look at this local building here in Fort Lauderdale. The owners…
It’s a multibillion-dollar company; they’ve kind of want this building to be off their balance sheet. They’re $60 million into this building. I go and they’re like, “Look, we’re trying to get rid of it. The buyers don’t want to see this. We’re willing to dump it at $32 million.” I said, “I’m not paying you 32 million. I’ll offer $26 million.” They walk. I get a call this week. This week they come up to me and they say, “Patrick, we’ll sell it to you right now for $20 million. But we need this thing to get them within four weeks.”
And I said, I’ll give you $15 million for it. And they’re entertaining the idea, by the way. They’re entertaining the idea. So, if the big money people are willing to take those kinds of losses because they want debt off the balance sheet, we’re about to experience Middle America — folks who are living in 500, 800 and $700,000 homes or million dollar homes. We’re going to start seeing people saying, “You know, that thing we thought was worth a million? Maybe it’s really only worth 850.” So that’s what’s going to be experienced now because people are running out of cash.
CLAY: So, this is fascinating because Buck and I have talked a lot about this. There’s a lot of people out there who are just staying in their homes because they have a 3% mortgage rate, and they don’t want to have to pay 6.5% or 7% to be able to move.
CLAY: At some point, that all starts to add up. I think we’ve had, whatever it is, 11 straight months of declining home sales and a lot of people — you know this, Patrick — a huge percentage, people out there listening to us right now, their net worth is very often tied up into their homes. And in that what you’re discussing, at least in your head, you get those Zillow emails, and the value of your home is higher than what you paid. And so psychologically, for past years, you’ve been able to use that home as a piggy bank.
CLAY: How does this rectify itself? So if what you’re talking about, people are trying… There’s a flight to quality, basically a flight to cash. How does this spiral? What happens in your mind in ‘23 as we move through this year?
BET-DAVID: Well, it’s not going to be a pretty year and I think everybody… It’s funny, because when you talk to realtors…This the best way to find out how well the industry is going to do: Call realtors and ask them, “What is your indication, what is your prediction of what’s going to happen to the market in 2023?” Here’s what they’ll say. “We’re expecting a flat year.” If realtors, who are in the business of being optimistic, tell you they’re expecting a flat year. You know what it means? They’re expecting 20 to 30% drop off. Right. Because typically realtors are always very motivational, very optimistic, very excited.
So that part is given math. You cannot fight math. Math is math. When our savings goes to the levels that it goes to, you know, people panic. We don’t do well when we don’t have money in the bank. We come from a concerned place. My suggestion and my thought is more towards solution. I remember when I was working at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, my first day with them was 9/10/01. My second day at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter being what it was: 9/11. So we’re talking first day, everybody’s excited. “This is going to be great! You’re officially a stockbroker.” Next day, people are afraid to answer the phones.
And if you remember, when we shut down the stock market because they were worried it was going to just plunge the next day, and then they shut it down, the market was closed. Brokers weren’t working. I sat there and I said, “Oh my God, what are we going to be doing?” So that was kind of a case study to see what happened. A documentary came out at the time by the former comptroller general of U.S., David Walker. He’s in it, and then Warren Buffett’s in it. And in the documentary, a lady asks the following question — which, I think this is the most important part.
She says, “Listen, Warren, I’m a mother. I have three kids. I’m so worried. What do I do? How do I pay the bills? Is America…? America’s debt is at this situation. We owe this much money. Here’s what’s going on. How do I handle myself? I don’t know what to do,” and Warren said something very powerful, and I’ll never forget this. The biggest insurance policy the individual can have in an economy like this. He says, “Listen, there’s always a demand for experts. There’s always a demand for people who are very, very good at what they do.”
Meaning, if somebody is listening to this and this caller, they’re probably like, “Listen, Clay, Buck, why’d you guys bring this guy? He’s depressing right now. He’s right. Saving is this… I’m not optimistic about it.” So that caller, you have to figure out a way to learn a new a new skill set or two or three or four or five — or whatever you’re in, become an expert in it because tens of thousands of jobs… We’re seeing 55,000 jobs in technology right now. We’re not even feeling it. Bed, Bath & Beyond — which many of us have been to Bed, Bath & Beyond, maybe by choice, maybe by force — they just went bankrupt. There’s going to be a lot of stories like that.
So the individual, rather than sitting there panicking, whatever job you’re in, do whatever you can to become an expert, improve yourself, learn new ways of taking care of your customers so you’re more competitive in the marketplace. That doesn’t mean the next 12 months is not going to be is going to be pretty. It doesn’t. It just means when this too shall pass and we go into 2024, 2025, by that time, you’ll be recovered. And then five, ten years from now, when this happens again, you’ll be ready for the next crisis. Unfortunately, it’s too late if you weren’t ready for this one. This is now an indicator for us to be prepared for the next one.
BUCK: Check out, everybody, the PBD Podcast, Patrick Bet-David. Patrick, we’ve got to have you back for one of our long forms because we got to get a station break now because it’s radio, but we love to talk to you on the podcast side. So thank you so much for being with us.
BET-DAVID: Thanks, fellows. Thank you. Take care. Bye-bye.