Writing a book is the worst experience on the planet. I'm now 99% done with a book called The Forever Portfolio that's scheduled to come out this fall. Each time I work on a book, invariably, when I'm about halfway through it, I'll tell myself, "There is no frackin' way I'm ever going to do this again. No more books for me."
After my third book I was absolutely convinced I would never write another, but then Will Weisser and Jeffrey Krames from Penguin called and asked if I had any proposals lying around. So I lied, said "yes" and whipped out a proposal for
The Forever Portfolio
, which I'm super excited about now that it's done.
Meanwhile, I've also changed my mind again about writing another book. I have a new idea for a book --
30 Ways the World Could End
I was thinking about this the other evening while at dinner with the risk manager of a multibillion-dollar fund of funds. All this guy does all day is worry. Pandemic this, dollar collapse that, terrorism, nuclear accident, etc. Imagine getting paid to worry about all of this. Well, what if everyone can worry alongside of you? A psychological trick I always play on myself to resolve anxiety is to picture the worst-case scenario in any anxiety-producing situation. If I can imagine surviving the worst case scenario then it relaxes me because I realize things aren't all that bad.
I've compiled an initial list of 30 ideas. If you have any others, please post them to this
I figure I can write five descriptive pages on each item, add some photos and illustrations to tack on another page or two per item, one blank page between chapters and --
-- I'll have 200-plus pages.
Ok, here's the first 10 ideas plus some notes for each one as well as some stock ideas.
- World financial collapse triggered by a bank failure. Thank you, Bear Stearns (BSC) , for this one. If the human race loses faith in the dollar, it might plunge us back into caveman times. How can it happen? What happens if nobody knows how to value the $200 trillion in derivative bets out there?
- We run out of oil. The Middle East would plunge into chaos, industry would grind to a halt. Super investors T. Boone Pickens and Peter Thiel are already on top of this oil issue and placing their bets accordingly. Check out their portfolios from the links above for stock ideas such as Monsanto (MON) , Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report, Suncor Energy (SU) - Get Report, etc.
- We run out of clean water. This is the only one that will probably happen within the next 30 years. Only 0.001% of the world's water is drinkable. The supply of clean water is never going to change, but the demand is skyrocketing thanks to the modernization of China, India and the rest of the developing world. Over half of all hospital stays in the world are already due to water-related diseases. Stocks that are in the clean water space include General Electric (GE) - Get Report and others in the Stockpickr Clean Water portfolio.
- Flu pandemic. The flu mutates and evolves every year. Eventually (and there's no doubt it will happen) it will mutate into a killer flu with no vaccine. Companies that are attempting to make vaccines include Genzyme (GENZ) and Invitrogen (IVGN) .
- Terrorism. It's pretty easy to build a dirty bomb or unleash some sort of bioterror threat on our water supply or in the air.
- All the bees die. The bees have already been mysteriously disappearing and Albert Einstein is often misquoted as saying, "If the bees are gone for one year then all civilization will die." Monsanto (MON) , which makes genetically engineered food, would be the way to go here.
- Everyone gets depressed. One in five people are clinically depressed and almost 50% of people have some mental disorder. The situation is getting worse with global economic development. What if we all lose the will to live? Of course, Eli Lilly (LLY) - Get Report and Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report, the makers of popular antidepressants, stand to benefit along the way.
- Biblical apocalypse. Hey, over 1 billion people on the planet believe this could happen so we have to take it seriously. News Corp (NWS) - Get Report, which owns the largest bible publisher, Zondervan, would benefit.
- Category 5 hurricanes in New York and other large cities. Elk Corp (ELK) , which makes a variety of building products that they sell into the construction industry, is a solid player post-hurricane. After the six costliest hurricanes over the past 20 years, Elk's returns in the year following the hurricane have been 75%, 25%, 20%, 20%, 19% and 13%, respectively.
- Evolution wipes out the human race. We simply start getting age-related diseases earlier. Dendreon (DNDN) , Wyeth (WYE) and other companies making cancer vaccines or Alzheimer drugs, could benefit.
If you have any others, post your ideas in this
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is president of
LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs a fund of hedge funds. He is also a weekly columnist for the
and the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
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