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March 17, 2009

The stock market, is it a losing bet?

by @ 4:24 pm. Filed under Personal Opinions

I have never invested money in the stock market…and I’m glad I never did. A few years ago, my brother managed to gather about 3 grand that he wanted to invest. He asked for my advice. We both didn’t know anything about investing, but we consulted many online resources, such as The Motley Fool and others. Within this past decade, we have seen 2 financial bubbles burst: The internet bubble which affected me directly by evaporating any chance for landing a job within a reasonable amount of time and the current housing bubble which burst because banks were lending money willy-nilly without giving any thought to one’s finances. This risk was repackaged into securities that started going belly-up as soon as the foreclosures started to happen. With capital now tied up in houses that have been foreclosed and a decrease in buyers, banks are now pulling back on their lending leading to the credit crunch the country is in. The interview with Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer has shed some light on the fact that no one can accurately predict the market. That in and of itself isn’t bad. Risk, as we are all told, yields corresponding return. The bigger and more important problem is that of corporate dishonesty and greed. Many CEO’s lied to the public as to their businesses’ financial standing. In some cases, lying before congress as to their salary. Why these CEOs aren’t sworn in is beyond me. If they are not willing to talk honestly, then who cares what comes out of their mouths. The current talk in the stock market seems to be towards value based (fundamentals) investing and less on technical analysis. Value based investing is completely dependent on accountants not cooking the books, corporate officers being honest and no insider trading back room deals. This will yield further problems down the road since the problem is dishonesty and greed. While we are on the topic of dishonesty and greed, how can top AIG execs demand that they be paid for running a business into the ground, and the economy with it, using taxpayer money?! I wouldn’t pay one red cent to these executives who think they should be paid despite performance. Where I work, I have goals to meet. If I don’t meet those goals, I do NOT get a bonus. If I EXCEED the goals, I may qualify for a bonus.

It just may be better to just save money the old fashioned way: compounding interest. Low Risk, but consistent return where the security in question is obvious and not some convoluted mess waiting to unravel: money market funds, CDs and bonds. The way I see it, I don’t trust CEOs or their business’ balance sheets. They are overpaid and, it seems, underperforming visionless opportunists. The push to invest from television and other media is very strong and may be convincing people to invest more in the stock market then they are willing to actually risk. How many 401k accounts are invested in risky mutual funds? If you needed to retire today, you wouldn’t! Societies shift from a decent pension to a 401k that may offer more in the long term sounds like we traded our bird in the hand for 2 in a bush headed by some hedgefund manager who makes money whether or not you make money. I remember watching the fluctuations of my brother’s investment. It was nerve racking. I can’t imagine putting a 401k (aka retirement) into the stock market. Sounds like a sucker’s bet to me. While diversifying your portfolio or investing in mutual funds may insulate one from rapid fluctuations in the market, it comes shy of  knowing your money is growing consistently no matter how small or large. Just my 2 cents.

stock-market-crash1

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