Meyers: Wall Street turmoil is a â�?�?wake-upâ�?�? call to country By: David Lias
Plain Talk By David Lias Plain Talk Stephen R. Meyers was scheduled well over a month ago to speak at The University of South Dakota about the fickle art of how to weather a cyclical stock market. He didnâ�?�?t know at the time that his Monday afternoon visit to Vermillion was scheduled so that heâ�?�?d be guaranteed a full house in the auditorium of Old Main. There wasnâ�?�?t an empty seat, as students, interested adults and faculty members of the university hoped to learn as much as possible about how to deal with the economic uncertainty that has gripped Wall Street. â�?�?In a way, the topic, â�?�?weathering market cyclesâ�?�? would be a topic that would be timely at any time,â�? Meyers said. â�?�?It doesnâ�?�?t have to be right during all types of interesting economic news.â�? Early in his talk, he directed his remarks to the younger university students in the audience. â�?�?This isnâ�?�?t necessarily a dangerous time,â�? Meyers said. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s a gift in a way. Itâ�?�?s a wake-up call.â�? The recent shake-up on Wall Street, he said, should convince university students who will be graduating soon and making a living to â�?�?take 10 or 15 or 20 percent, right off the top, of what you earn. â�?�?And youâ�?�?re going to start saving it,â�? Meyers said, â�?�?and youâ�?�?re going to start investing it. And believe me, youâ�?�?d rather do that at cheap valuations than do it at very high valuations. So, you young people, this is a very, very key event thatâ�?�?s going on right now, because itâ�?�?s deflating throughout the world excess valuations and itâ�?�?s giving you an opportunity to have the correct measures â�?�? whatever they are â�?�? put in place so that responsible behavior takes place in the future.â�? His talk was part of the Beacom School of Business Deanâ�?�?s Lecture Series at the university. Meyersâ�?�? expertise in the world of investing was responsible for the full house audience in Old Main that listened to his lecture. He is currently CIO emeritus and senior advisor to the South Dakota Investment Council after retiring recently as the state investment officer for the South Dakota Investment Council. During his tenure as the state investment officer, he directed the equity, fixed income, derivatives and asset allocation strategies for assets exceeding $7 billion. For the three decades under Myersâ�?�? leadership, his team was the No. 1 performing state fund in the country with an annualized return of 11 percent versus the average state fundâ�?�?s return of 9.6 percent. After entering the investment business in 1968 as a retail broker with Goodbody & Company in Chicago, Myers, a South Dakota native and graduate of USD, joined Lehman Brothers as a midwest institutional representative. He told the USD students that it is still a good time to save and invest despite the recent grim economic news. For centuries, he said, markets have been rocked by negative market cycles. â�?�?You can go all the way through to the 1800s with railroads and the 1900s with junk bonds â�?¦ and now weâ�?�?re in the 2000s and we have subprime mortgages, and we have Chinese stocks that are down 70 percent in the last several months,â�? Meyers said. When setting future economic goals, he said, itâ�?�?s important to use a long-term view. He credits this approach for the success that the South Dakota Investment Council has had over a 30-year period. â�?�?The board of directors of the council, which was made up of the best businesspeople in the state â�?¦ in those first meetings, they said, â�?�?Meyers, we arenâ�?�?t in this for the short-term. Weâ�?�?re in this for the long term. We want to be able to look back at the end of our first quarter century, and at the end of 50 years and the end of 100 years and know that weâ�?�?ve done the right things and followed the right practices.â�?�? â�? But, he said, in his 40 years of being involved in investment business, he has had to question whether the economic system will be able to â�?�?muddle throughâ�? volatile times. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s always been a no-brainer for me,â�? he said. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve always said weâ�?�?ll muddle through. Does it count that we are going to muddle through this when you have to pull out as many stops as weâ�?�?re pulling out so we can muddle through? â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s the question that Iâ�?�?m asking myself,â�? he said. â�?�?I think the answer is yes, because weâ�?�?ve pulled out some stops before back when the savings and loan debacle took place.â�?