Interview: Stephen Leeb Of Personal Finance And The Big Picture by Thom Hartle
If a diverse educational background ever lent itself to analyzing the markets, surely that of Personal Finance and The Big Picture newsletters editor Stephen Leeb would do so, with degrees in economics, mathematics and psychology. With that in mind, how does he see the markets? We decided to find out. Leeb spoke to Stocks & Commodities about what his work shows are the important driving forces for the market, his longer-term view of inflation and the indicators he uses.
Q: Stephen, how did you begin your career as a money manager and a market analyst?
A: More by happenstance than planning, I'd say. My undergraduate work was in economics at Wharton. In graduate school, I studied psychology and math, earning a doctorate in psychology and a master's in mathematics. This educational background trained me in the ways to do research, ways to discover how things work. I've always been fascinated by what makes things tick, and there's nothing more fascinating to me than how the stock market works.
Q: I'm surprised at the topics you studied, because psychology and math are really at two different ends of the spectrum.
A: That's probably true, but the stock market, if you think about it, is a combination of psychology and economics. Over the years I think my mathematical background's enabled me to approach the important questions about the market with a certain degree of rigor, but my psychological insight's taught me that you'll never find the definitive answer. So you have to keep refining your thinking. You have to focus on developing good ideas.
Q: In other words, you have to always keep an open mind about the markets.
A: That's right. You may think that you've found the answer, but you'll ultimately always be surprised.