Woohoo! I was interviewed by Forbes. The interview has been posted on their blog.
Before you go there, here’s the backstory:
Almost 20 years ago (yes, this backstory stretches back that far), I was reading in a consumer finance magazine about investing and I came across an article about a category of stocks called “sin stocks”. Sin stocks are a group of stocks related to a social taboo or controversy, and they include companies that deal in tobacco, alcohol, gambling, firearms, and more.
The concept fascinated me so much that I tore the article out of the magazine and put it into a file of magazine articles that I keep and read from time to time. That article in that file moved from house to house as I went to college, got married, started my first business, failed at that business, got a job, became a stockbroker, started my second business, and got my Masters degree. I re-read the article from time to time and paid attention to sin stocks as a category through it all.
Just last summer I pulled that article out of the file, re-read it, and then threw the article and the file out (because who keeps magazine articles in a file anymore, right?). And then I started Sin Stocks Report.
I started Sin Stocks Report because I felt that no one else was covering sin stocks in the way they needed to be covered. Yes, people would write an article now and then and post it on a site like SeekingAlpha or MoneyShow or something — but nothing with consistency.
Starting Sin Stocks Report was a bit of a gamble. The reason is: I don’t necessarily endorse the products and services that sin stocks sell. But I started the site anyway because I see myself as kind of a reporter writing about topics and you don’t always get to write about topics that you agree with.
Since starting the site, I’ve had some (mercifully) good feedback, including opportunities to do interviews and provide market commentaries. I’ve turned them all down because this is a hobby and I don’t really want to become “the guy” who covers vice. (And if you knew me in person you’d know that I’m actually kind of the opposite — I don’t smoke, I barely drink, I rarely go to casinos, etc. I eat pretty healthy; I workout everyday; I read a lot; I go to the opera). I see myself as a reporter of sin stocks.
But when Susannah Breslin of Forbes contacted me for an interview, I couldn’t turn it down. (Well, I almost did but it was Forbes). She did the interview (more on that in a future post) and then posted it at Forbes.com. You can check out her interview here: Looking for Mr. Sin Stock.
Why do sin stocks fascinate me so much? It’s partly because I’m a finance nerd and I love stocks. It’s partly because I’m a writer and I want to cover a topic that other people aren’t covering adequately.
But it’s mostly because sin stocks are a glimpse into human nature. The “sin” in “sin stocks” isn’t necessarily a religious judgment (which is sometimes why they’re called “vice stocks” instead). Rather the label “sin stocks” is a glimpse into our social values — the things that define us and the things that we implicitly label as acceptable-enough-to-be-legal-but-unacceptable-enough-to-be-aggressively-legislated.
As Susannah put it in our interview, “sin stocks are a petri dish of the human condition”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.