Sunday, March 15, 2009

Its the end of the world as we know it...

....and I feel fine.
------REM

For those of you not getting the reference, that's a song by the group REM.

The end of the world as we know it means that the investing landscape has changed forever. Make that until the next bubble comes along, whether it is in stocks, cotton or tulip bulbs. The public was lulled into believing not that returns would be 10% in stocks - many of us doubted that a long time ago - but rather in the idea that you can give your money to the market - any market - and expect to get more back later. Key word - expect.

Unbelievable, I have to quote Jon Stewart, fresh from tearing Mr. Cramer a new one. Paraphrasing - "this country was built on work." Real wealth, not pipe dream wealth, came from people building things. Whether it be Microsoft or housing communities or blockbuster movies, those people who created stuff still have their stuff. Those who believed that paper assets or commodities speculation were lasting wealth got a rude awakening last year.

Gurus are dead. And for many years, stock and bond investing is likely dead, too. Not that bull markets won't return but getting retail participation back will be a challenge. To me, retail is the control rod in the nuclear reactor of the market. Without it, trends can change on a whim and volatility will probably stay with us for a while.

That makes my damn job a lot harder because not only do I have to be right but I have to convince people that despite the loss of trust in the markets, money can still be made. We just have to remember that stocks, bonds, mutual funds and maybe even the GLD gold ETF it seems are all just a bunch of promises.

2 comments:

Amalan said...

Michael, do you know the percentage of money invested by investors that manage their own personal investment accounts vs. the remainder? I have been looking for this data, but cannot seem to find it.

Quick Takes Pro said...

I don't know this one but I bet the financial magazines have done surveys - Money, Smart Money, Forbes. Try Financial Advisor and Investment Advisor, too.