Major Market Declines

The year is 2008 and Americans lost $74 billion of equity in their real estate and retirement accounts. Plus the government had to “loan” Wall Street firms $125 billion to keep them from collapsing. On top of that, the government had to spend literally trillions to keep the economy afloat. And to top off all that, the Wall Street firms paid themselves $17.5 billion in bonuses for doing such a great job. Then in 2009, while our whole country was in the depths of the “Great Recession,” they paid themselves another $22.5 billion in bonuses. If you think, even for a second, that Wall Street cares about your financial security, you’re most likely viewing the wrong web site.

The idea behind the bailout was to keep the banking system solvent so that financial institutions could and would continue to loan out money and keep America running. However, instead of putting the bailout money back into the economy, the banks used the money to buy their own stock. After all, they had just been informed that the government would not let them go bankrupt, so it was a no-risk investment. They also knew that once everyone else realized they could not fail, they would start buying the stock, the stock prices would go up, and they would make money on the purchase of their own stock by selling it back at the higher prices. That’s what restarted the 5-year rally: they borrowed the money from us and then paid it back by selling the stock back to us at higher prices.

Before I go any further, let me say here that I do love the stock market; it’s the Wall Street firms I can’t believe in or trust. To understand how we got here, we need to go all the way back to 1933. That, of course, was right after the Great Depression. The government realized that one of the major causes was the collapse of the stock market and that the collapse had occurred because the banking system let people borrow exorbitant amounts of money just to put into the market. Now, if you stop and think about this for a minute you can see the problem. If you went to your neighborhood bank and asked for a $10,000 loan, and when they asked why you needed it, you said “to invest in the stock market,” they would have laughed you right out the door. But back then most of the big Main Street banks were also the big Wall Street banks, and because they knew they were going to get the money right back and make commissions on it, they were more than happy to loan the money. This brought about the Glass-Steagall Act, which divided the banking industry into investment and commercial banks, in other words Main Street banks and Wall Street banks. The problem is the big banking firms never did like that law and they worked for decades to find ways to work around it or abolish it. Finally by 1999, the big banks had found enough ways around the law that they convinced Congress it was no longer useful and actually got the law abolished. The end result is, 8 years later we entered the Great Recession. That worked well, don’t you think?

Now as stated earlier, I do believe in the stock market. I have a chart that shows the progression of the S&P 500 since 1950. This information is easy to come by; I used Yahoo Finance. It does show that you need to have some of your money invested in, or at least tied to, the performance of the stock market. In both my book and at the seminars I explain how to both protect yourself when the market is going through one of its major declines, such as 2000-2003 or 2008-2009, and I tell you about a particular product where you can participate in the upward moves in the market but not the downward moves. As I have said all along, making money is easy, keeping it is the hard part. Most financial advisors, books, seminars, etc., focus on growing your money. That’s good because you do need to grow your money. But I focus on how to keep your money as your money. There comes a time in everyone’s life when keeping your money intact becomes more important than achieving more growth.

I know one unfortunate lady who felt like she had enough to retire in 1999 from her well-paying job as a laboratory technician at a major brewery. Two and a half years later, after nearly half of her retirement account disappeared because of the market decline, she went back to work as a checkout clerk with a major grocery chain. Six years later, just as she was almost back to where she had been in 1999, the market took another major nose dive. The good news is that this time, about a year before the downturn, she had heeded some of my advice and took steps to at least protect about half her money. In the end, she only lost about 20% of her nest egg the second time and was therefore able to weather the storm. All the earnings you see on paper aren’t worth a nickel until you turn them into real money that you can put into your pocket and spend the way you see fit.

Educating yourselves is, and always will be, one of the best investments you can or ever will make. There are lots of good ways to make money. There are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, REITs, real estate, and managed accounts. All those methods can and do work, but they work best when you understand their limitations. Most of the “education,” and I use that word lightly, could probably be better defined as propaganda. The reason is that most of the information is provided by those who will benefit when you invest in a particular market. The general rule of thumb to remember is that there are always two sides to every coin. Every investment, let me repeat that, every investment has positive traits and negative traits. It is your job to do one of two things. One, you can research until you feel you know the negatives or, two, you can find someone who is willing to share that information with you.

So how do you know when someone is telling you the whole story? First, if you ask them what the negatives or weak spots of a particular investment are and they say there are none, I advise that you get up and run for the door as fast as you can. Another good question to ask is, “Are bonds safe?” Most Wall Street firms will say yes. Granted that bonds are safer than stocks, they do not meet my definition of safe. Between 1991 and 1994, bonds lost 28% of their value because of a rising interest-rate market. Losing 28% is not my definition of safe. As interest rates rise, bond values go down and, of course, the opposite is true. There is a full explanation of this in my book. Of course, if you hold a bond till it matures then it is mostly safe.

The purpose of this web site is to promote our seminars and/or entice you into buying my book, so I leave you with these final thoughts and questions, all of which are answered in the book.

  • Why are interest rates so low and why are they staying this low for so long? The answer is probably not what you think.
  • Since the government reports keep telling us that our economy is still fragile and weak, why is the stock market at all-time highs?
  • If buying an investment and holding onto it through thick and thin is such good advice, then why doesn’t Wall Street invest that way?
  • They tell us to buy low and sell high. The problem is you don’t know a low was a low until after it has happened; likewise, you don’t know a high was a high until later. So is there a way to know? Of course there is, but you will have to buy the book or come to a seminar to get that answer.

You can find the list of our upcoming seminars on the Events page. To be notified when the new book becomes available, which should be June 2015, please use the Contact Us page.