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.”
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.”