7 Money Lessons from Stephen Colbert

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — We all know what Stephen Colbert has to say about politics. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, think about Bill O'Reilly and take away reason and accountability. For years the host of the "Colbert Report" has made a living acting like a willfully ignorant blowhard, and he occasionally created history doing so (see his brilliant takedown, with Jon Stewart, of super PACs).

That's all about to change. CBS has announced that Colbert will replace David Letterman next year as host of the "Late Show," and with it Colbert will retire his long running character. Over the years, most of Colbert's commentary has focused on politics, but from time to time he's crossed into the our territory here at MainStreet. In honor of the Colbert Report's historic run, here are seven of his best thoughts on money and finance.

1. Don't panic, stocks cycle.

To help him understand 2008's financial crash Colbert called upon the help of Gorlock, his extraterrestrial financial advisor. The message may have come from beyond the stars (or at least a Comedy Central green room) but it remains valuable: stocks cycle, and playing with your portfolio often does more harm than good.

Also, we will evidently soon be enslaved by an armada of green skinned accountants.

2. Unemployment Statistics Can Lie

Early on in the Great Recession Colbert stumbled upon a secret that would wind up driving much fiscal policy in the years to come: to reduce unemployment, you don't actually need to find anyone a job. The unemployment rate, he crowed, only measures people actively looking for work, so anyone underemployed or not reporting a job search to the government doesn't count.

Reducing unemployment is easy, Colbert celebrated. All we have to do is just convince everyone to stop looking.


3. Sometimes a Job Isn't Enough