Dr. Lowell Catlett had FPA members laughing as he closed the organization’s 2013 Retreat in Palm Springs, Calif., on Monday afternoon.
Catlett, a futurist and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, began by noting his age.
“I was considering the short time I had left and said, ‘Whoa, I better do all I can to extend it,’” he said.
He noted the “marriage premium” men have over women when it comes to their life spans, “although some married men would rather die.”
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He also said he thought the fact that he drank red wine would help him, until his doctor explained what moderation meant, “and I had to give those years back.”
Lastly, he discovered men in Canada live to an average of 78 years, so he decided to move there, “until I realized you need a marketable skill before I could move to the country, so that didn’t help.”
Cattlett then noted that the accuracy rate of the financial industry in predicting market outcomes was just 47%, despite increases in expertise and technology.
“Just 47%, can you believe that?” he asked the audience. “That means you could flip a coin and we’d still be behind by 3 percentage points.”
Catlett noted that the amount it costs the average American to eat as a percentage of disposable income has never been lower. He also said he is now able to tell college graduates the price of owning a home has never been lower.
“When I bought my first home in 1979, the interest rate on my 30-year fixed was 11%,” he related. “A colleague at the time said, ‘Stop bragging, mine’s 17%.’ Think we were underwater? A little bit, we just weren’t bright enough to do the calculation and figure it out.”