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Susan Tompor: 'Downtown' Josh Brown talks about bitcoin and boomers

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

"Downtown" Josh Brown, a panelist on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report," isn't afraid to be blunt. Ask him to talk about what baby boomers need to do if they're edgy about what's driving the Dow Jones industrial average beyond 23,000 and he gives you quite an earful.

Brown says someone who is 65 now cannot afford to take all the risk off the table -- particularly given that some retirees can easily live until age 95.

"If you think you're going to fund a 30-year retirement with a Treasury yielding 2 percent, then you're smoking crack. Never going to make it, never going to make it," Brown said.

Like it or not, baby boomers need to learn to deal with volatility and take on more risk, he said. One cannot just turn to all-cash or bonds in his or her 60s anymore -- given low interest rates and longer lifespans.

Brown has a straight-shooting style. He's colorful and not afraid to take on the conventional wisdom. He writes a popular finance blog called The Reformed Broker, in whish he recently disclosed that "I bought my first bitcoin."

Brown has said he got into bitcoin -- a digital currency that could be an alternative to the dollar or euro or yen -- at around $2,300 in July and has been "alternately skeptical and bullish pretty much every day since."

He joked in July that people would be free to dump all of their "cryptocurrencies because this surely marks an all-time top" when he bought bitcoin. But bitcoin had climbed above $6,600 to hit a record high on Nov. 1.

Brown warns, though, that he's not setting any price targets or giving any advice on bitcoin. "I don't know anything about this 'asset class' and probably no one else really does either," he wrote in October.

Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, said that even though he's skeptical, he's "old enough to realize that just because I don't see a use for something, that doesn't mean I won't be proven wrong by others who do."

Brown doesn't like forecasts. He likes to give a running commentary on perceptions and events as they unfold. He says his blog is "forecast-free."

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