It’s a matter of time. 25 years ago, a book was published titled DOW 40,000 written by David Elias. This is no different from the many other books with similar prognostications. Recall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was around 10,500 in June 1999. Such an awe-inspiring title easily grabbed attention.

The late ‘90s was a boom of a time. Millennials and Gen Z may be surprised to hear there was a time before computers. All the technology we take for granted today had its infancy in the ’90s. Growing use of cell phones, proliferation of cell towers, the internet, fiberoptics, conception of the smart phones were all gifts of the Cold War peace dividend, secular falling interest rates, accommodative Federal Reserve policy, and globalization to name a few.

In the late ‘90s, it wasn’t hard to imagine a future world just around the corner. The optimism spread to stock market pundits with calls for higher and higher index values. The themes were redundant with calls of lower interest rates (recall, rates were in the middle of a 40-year secular decline in rates), exponential use of technology, continued globalization, and retiring baby boomers (oddly none noted what would become the largest generation, the Millennials).

None of these calls were particularly difficult to envision. It’s similar to saying today’s future drivers are interest rates higher than the last 15 years (which happened to be some of the lowest interest rates in recorded history), exponential implementation of artificial intelligence, move toward manufacturing regionalization, and ongoing geopolitical strife. It’s much tougher to predict the impacts from black swan events like 9/11, global credit crisis or a pandemic.

Elias forgets an important recommendation of financial punditry, calling value or timing will sell books, but both will leave you with egg on your face. Elias predicted the Dow Jones Industrial Average will reach 40,000 by 2016. Calling for a Dow of 40,000 without timing leaves the soothsayer correct, but dating that prediction leaves the guru open to embarrassment.

This week’s letter is not to condemn forward thinking. It’s to caution readers of the author’s motives. If Elias felt so strongly of his secret sauce, wouldn’t he keep it to himself for his own trading profits? Maybe his motive is to sell books, or drive investment dollars to his firm, or drive attention to themes he’s already positioned to profit from. Interestingly, in 1999, Elias had his own investment management firm. What current-day prophecy books draw your attention?