Certificate of Dumb Investment

Spend enough time talking to people about investments and you’ll inevitably be the recipient of an idea about an investment that is an extraordinarily poor idea. This happens all the time all over the place. A few weeks ago I clicked on an ad from YouTube from a investment firm of some sort, run by a guy whose name reminded me of the movie Boiler Room.


The advertisement was for a “bond” that pays 19% per year for, er, I have no idea. I think he said “accounts receivable” a couple of times.

What I mean to say is this: the advertisement was for a dumb investment.

In the context of a broader set of questions around investor protections & regulatory requirements, Matt Levine at Bloomberg has proposed an official solution: the Certificate of Dumb Investment.

What a certificate that would be.

To get that certificate, you sign a form. The form is one page with a lot of white space. It says in very large letters: “I want to buy a dumb investment. I understand that the person selling it will almost certainly steal all my money, and that I would almost certainly be better off just buying index funds, but I want to do this dumb thing anyway. I agree that I will never, under any circumstances, complain to anyone when this investment inevitably goes wrong. I understand that violating this agreement is a felony.”
— https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-09-24/earning-the-right-to-get-swindled

I’m absolutely in love with this idea, like I am with many Matt Levine proposals. Would be happy to draft one up as a favor for any Dumb Investment Likers out there. Let me know.

Robinson Crawford