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Why The Financial “Industry” Can Be A Bad Idea – And How To See Through The Maze

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After my mother died, I inherited a nest egg that was the result of my father’s hard work over 30 years, which put me in the position of being approached by a series of “financial advisors.” They invariably promised to help me “invest” this money wisely. Fortunately my father had been both an economist and treasurer of a large travel agency, so he had provided me with a sound financial philosophy, solid practices and a healthy distrust for both Wall Street and investment “experts.” He had also retired successfully in saner economic times.

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When he stopped working full-time banks were paying above 6% interest on savings. When I inherited his life savings, a return like this would have enabled me to live quite comfortably, especially since I was able to earn money as a tech and business writer. But many of my friends were “day trading” and the stock market was hot so I began to get visions of the high life.  Since I was in the high tech arena I tried to leverage what I thought was my insight into some quick gains, with very mixed results.

So I sought out the help of some “experts,” bearing in my mind many of my father’s principles:  minimize risk, save money, and don’t buy in “installments” (credit).

So – only one of the following men was a “brilliant economist” (the one on the right, my father)
— the other was the Fed Chief that deregulated the markets.

twomenGetting involved in the “financial world,” what I found was an “industry” that had more confusing jargon than even the technology world in which I worked —and an agreed upon set of rules and agreements. One of these was that over the “long term” stocks would outperform bonds, real estate and simple savings (which were seen as sucker accounts) and that this was a “proven fact.”

The problem was, of course, that no one knew exactly what the long term was; if you were 30 years old you could be realistically expectant that you might have a long term perspective until you were maybe 60 –but of course even this wasn’t guaranteed –you could drop dead at anytime.

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After buying a few stocks and losing my ass, I soon discovered that “the long term” was really a euphemism for “hoping the shit would recover.”

Still financial advisors tried to convince me of “known truths” like:

  • The need to set financial goals
  • The need to diversify
  • The wonders of asset allocation

They did not appreciate that my father had impressed upon me the need to see the stock market as a giant craps table –and the longer you risked your money,  the more likely you were to lose.

There was only one goal for me which I expressed thusly:  “My goal is to make the most money in the shortest time with no loss of principal.” But financial experts were not particularly impressed with this concept. They tried to explain that “financial goals” were dependent on “time horizons,” “risk tolerance” and similar terms that I thought were pure bullshit.

expertsFinally I bought into some of this when a friend recommended a seasoned broker at Smith-Barney in Boston, who shifted me over to her assistant who promised to make money for me with “solid companies” and he put together a portfolio of blue chips. One of these was Microsoft, which soon faced a very serious anti-trust judgment in European courts.  I mentioned this to my expert who told me not to worry because I had a financial profile that kept me in my stocks for “the long term.” I tried to argue that Microsoft might lose quite a bit of its value the following week, and I wanted to sell my shares and maybe buy them back cheaper, but he assured me that this went against my profile.

I listened to his malarkey for about an hour, tried to use common sense, and finally hung up with the idea that maybe, just maybe, the nonsense he had spewed was right and I was wrong. Sure enough Microsoft went from $80 a share to $30 over the next month, and it just recovered slightly recently (20 years later).  I lost enough in value that I quit that expert and left Smith-Barney.

In comparison with this brilliant approach, my father was a believer in something called “compound interest.”  This means actually putting away money you earned  and letting it grow according to the following system:

Compound-Interest-Chart

He also believed in another principle:  “Don’t Buy Shit You Can’t Afford.” This meant that I was the last kid I knew to have a color television in the living room, but I also never knew a day when my family was ever in debt.

After college I could not believe how my friends recklessly ran up credit card bills and later got involved in complicated real estate deals that put them in hot water. I never got rich but I always made the rent and lived well. Then when I inherited my father’s hard earned savings, and got burned a few more times in the “financial markets,” I bought a condo and kept working. I didn’t pay much attention when Congress passed “financial deregulation” or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, until I witnessed the real estate bubble, and near financial collapse of 2008, and the credit default swaps and massive debts and bailouts of “financial institutions.”

While many people suffered terribly, my main clue to what had actually happened was that banks suddenly didn’t need to pay any interest to savers.  Where my father had earned 6% compound interest on his savings, I suddenly could earn nothing in the bank. The reason for this was the “financial stimulus” – or the printing of completely worthless currency. This was the inevitable result of decades of fraudulent activity, and a transition from using “capital” as a way to create real wealth and value to simply a way of multiplying phony electronic “currency” on a computer screen.

And of course through such “deregulation,” the banks had effectively become casinos –now merged and partnered with investment brokers and insurance companies – they traded complex and risky “instruments” like derivatives and were “too big to fail.”  But of course they did fail –and were bailed out again and again with more funny money.

And now, suddenly when I again tried to avail myself of the wisdom of financial experts, I was “advised” that I had to take “reasonable risk” to earn a return and not deplete my savings. But I was approaching “retirement” – mainly because no one wanted to hire an old fart like me anymore -so now I was anxiously looking for passive income.

At this point, when I was asked for my goals I simply said, “to not end up on the street when my money runs out.”  Another way to put this was that I no longer had a “long term” time horizon. A friend of mine, in his 80’s had bought into the “long term” myth as well.  Unfortunately his “long term” ended in 2008 and he lost all of the gains his “expert advisors” had accumulated. He sold at major losses, terrified and to avoid losing more, and of course his holdings would have recovered eventually, but he needed safety and was screwed.

The question for me was a bit more palatable.  Having finally gotten through the acute anxiety of thinking the entire financial system would surely collapse, after amassing $3 trillion in debt that could never be paid back (and it was still printing worthless money), I decided to concentrate on the present moment, rather than the long term.

I listened to Eckhart Tolle, and my friend Michael Jeffreys, and realized that in “the present moment” I was fine.

But I wanted to understand how this “financial system” really operated so that I would not be victimized and sought out by other “advisors.”  I figured maybe someone had an answer for my situation that I had failed to discover. One advisor my own age admitted that I was screwed if I wanted a safe return that I could actually live on; “reasonable risk” even in bonds meant that I had to accept the potential loss of as much as 20% of my principal at any time in the future due to an unexpected event.

My alternative was inflation and running out of money when I was drooling in a nursing home. And as I explained to women who wanted me to take them to Paris or Hawaii, I was not rich but I was solvent. I could take them to Paris or Hawaii if I died in 10 years, but if I lived another 20 (I’m 65) I needed to save a bit more, and if I lived as long as my dad (86) they were out of luck –I needed my cash.

I went back into the stock market, looked at bonds, options, ETFs and other strategies, and took what I called limited and prudent risk. My discussions with financial “advisors” became a bit more heated. When I had “misunderstandings,” meaning that they didn’t tell me the truth about how bonds or options worked, I got very angry and moved my money to other institutions. More often than not they could not understand my displeasure and unwillingness to play their game –which again was like a giant craps table where the longer you keep the money on the numbers the more likely you are to get wiped. Just as a “7” will inevitably occur in craps, so too will a “correction” occur in the stock market.

The other obvious truth is that the market is completely rigged in favor of those who can afford inside information. 60 minutes just did another piece about how electronic traders “front load” transactions, seeing what retail investors are looking to buy and purchasing shares ahead of them, thereby raising the price, and then selling them back to the investors at a profit. WATCH IT HERE

These “professionals” are called “market makers.”  Seriously?  They are criminals. This does not take into account the other criminals called “insider traders” or as another 60 minutes piece referred to them, “researchers.”

So I have a new strategy.  I go at it alone and I believe in guerilla economics. I follow the momentum of the herd, buy and sell quickly, take my profits and then when I have enough I wait. I try not to get caught in the “undertow” of a “correction” or panic, which happens regularly. I read rumors about earnings and cautiously take advantage of any edge that I can get, knowing that most market commentary is false and misleading, I then just act accordingly.

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Tulsi Gabbard Just Called Hillary Clinton The “Embodiment Of Corruption” And Much More

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Hillary Clinton just referred to Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian asset in an interview. Tulsi comes back at her on Twitter, exposing the true face of Clinton.

  • Reflect On:

    Is it not important we have more public conversations about the true nature of the politicians we vote for?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently suggested that she thinks Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, is being “groomed” by Russia to run as a third-party candidate in 2020. Of course, she supplied no evidence of this, but using “Russia” in any sentence in the US is a sure-fire way of striking fear in people about someone.

In an interview with David Plouff, Obama’s former campaign manager, Clinton said:

“They’re also going to do third-party again, “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Again, step out of part politics for a second, are we really going to pretend this is about parties and not the global elite being upset at someone who’s ruining their show? Think about it, Clinton used Facebook, Google, YouTube and almost every media outlet in the US to manipulate the public into thinking she was a viable candidate. Trump was keen to use social media, and played the role of causing drama, but at least he was transparent about it. Clinton on the other hand, is precisely what Gabbard stated about her in a follow-up Tweet to Clinton’s remarks.

When it comes to the US’ involvement in war, which Gabbard has been rightly critical about, she has also said that Trump “has the blood of the Kurds on his hands” but explained that she holds both parties responsible for supporting what she described as a “regime-change war.” Accurately seeing that this is not about parties but about deep state agendas.

The Takeaway

As we often say in step 1 of The CE Protocol, we have to break the illusion of the world around us. Events like this indicate that there is a greater desire for people to speak up and expose what many people have known for a long time but has never received the attention it deserves. Gabbard in this case is helping the American public see more clearly the true nature of some of the politicians at play and the actions they take.

When we learn to see these actions more clearly we can call into question whether or not our voting processes or systems are truly representative of what people want or whether they are just there to tell a story to the people – one that isn’t true – so money and power can be made and maintained at the elite level.

Needing to have open and public conversations about this type of stuff, moving beyond the mainstream media created celebrity status of various candidates, is important so that people can begin to see the truth – see the person behind the mask. This is partly what people see with Trump, the truth of what politicians look like, act like and where their agendas lie. It’s all laid bare. Whether or not you agree or disagree with it is up to you to decide, because at least now it can be seen clearly. Especially if you avoid mainstream media’s coverage of it.

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This is Not A Movie, It’s October 1st, 2019 In Hong Kong

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Protests in Hong Kong rose to many tense moments over the past few months. This video footage shows clashes between riot police and protesters on Kowloon’s Nathan Road.

  • Reflect On:

    Have people reached a breaking point when it comes to how often they are not heard by governments?

In the video below, what looks like a Hollywood movie is the reality just a couple of weeks ago in Hong Kong. Riot police and protesters have been clashing for months as the streets become filled with hundreds of tear gas canisters and Molotov cocktails. Having covered the G20 summit in Toronto, these scenes appear much more tense than what I saw during those protests, and even those were filled with vandalism, pepper spray, burning cars and rubber bullets.

We’ve covered the Hong Kong protests a couple of times here on CE, including a full segment on CETV here.

There are obviously two perspectives as to what is going on, the Mainland China perspective and that of the Hong Kong protesters who feel Mainland China is acting wrongly. From the perspective of Mainland China, the protests in Hong Kong are fundamentally the result of Western interference and attempts at a ‘soft recolonization’ of Hong Kong. Their arguments have some merit.

From the Hongkongers perspective,  tensions rose after the introduction of an extradition bill that threatened residents’ freedoms. Protesters are demanding Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam resigns. They are also calling for:

  • The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill
  • The government to withdraw the use of the word “riot” in relation to protests
  • The unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped
  • An independent inquiry into police behaviour
  • Implementation of genuine universal suffrage

As with many things people are feeling at the moment, big government has been overreaching for quite some time, and freedoms continue to be cut while quality of life in our fast-paced modern society diminishes. What we must remember when viewing these issues is we can’t singularly look at each one and determine whether it’s right or wrong so easily. People are exposed to ‘hits’ from every direction to their wallets, freedom, health, lifestyle and psyche and our world is reflecting the feeling that ‘enough is enough.’

Since much of the time we aren’t sure what else to do, people fight back, they do what they think will lead them to being heard and having a solution brought forth. is this the best way forward? Perhaps not, but when it becomes clear to people that their governments and the voting process do not work in their benefit nor favor, this is sometimes what they revert to.

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Video credit: Tom Grundy/HKFP

More at http://www.hongkongfp.com – Hong Kong’s only not-for-profit, independent English-language news source.

H/T: Twisted Sifter

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CNN’s Political Bias Exposed By Whistleblower’s Hidden Camera Footage

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    CNN Technician Cary Poarch went around CNN with a hidden video camera for months in order to provide the public with evidence that CNN is not at all practicing objective journalism.

  • Reflect On:

    What kind of media do you support? Do we get the truth when we have politically motivated media? Is it time for an evolution in media?

At CE we have long talked about political bias in mainstream media, and it has become even more prevalent since an already polarizing figure named Donald Trump took office. This isn’t about whether you support Trump or not, it’s about seeing the patterns at play. But to date, CNN and other mainstream networks have still tried to maintain the veneer of objectivity and independence in their journalism. New information coming out from Project Veritas is set to remove the last vestiges of this fantasy.

Based on footage from a hidden camera used over the course of months by a CNN technician, it was revealed that the pro-Liberal, anti-Trump bias that proliferated in the network seemed ‘unbecoming of a news organization’ to many people who worked there. But it took one brave man, Cary Poarch, to be willing to risk his career to expose it with hard evidence.

In our latest episode of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV, Joe Martino and I discuss the implications of Poarch’s revealing footage that will help paint a picture of an organization that is as partisan as it could get from the top down, where President Jeff Zucker clearly promotes a biased political agenda and expects the employees under him and the content they produce to fall in lock-step with that agenda. Of course, it’s not just CNN that operates this way, this can be seen across all mainstream left and right media.

Where is the Objectivity?

This is what mainstream media has become, a tool of political partisanship, not only in what they broadcast to the public but even within the organization. At CNN Poarch has observed a ‘groupthink’ Anti-Trump mentality, and this type of bias ultimately leads to mainstream outlets devolving into echo chambers because, as Poarch puts it, there is no tolerance for dissenting or even neutral views:

“It’s an Unwritten Rule That if You Are Center, Center Right, or Heaven Forbid, Full Right Republican Trump Supporter, Then You Are Not Welcome at CNN.”

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Ultimately, since this echo chamber known as the Cable News Network remains one of the prominent proliferators of information in our society, we can see how they have contributed to the large schisms of left/right polarity within our society, in which people with opposing views will only know one side of the story, since it would be impossible for them to endure the extreme bias of whichever network offered views that were opposed to theirs.

And this is by design—to limit the critical thinking process and hide the injustice that is inherent in our system of governance, by having people continue to endlessly fight only between the left and right extremities. The fabric of the country is getting ripped apart when people are goaded into hating the other side simply because the media told them to hate. How are people supposed have productive and civil discussions, and ultimately make educated, informed decisions? Isn’t that what the media is supposed to assist us with?

Is it for Ratings?

There has long been an argument that media puts out stories based on the ratings war, or as in the old days based on how many newspapers they will sell. But it seems we’ve gone beyond that point in terms of bias. It seems as though ‘ratings’ is an argument that top executives make to actually try to hide their bias.

Networks now simply concentrate on retaining viewers with a political bias, and don’t even try to reel back in a growing number of people who are seeing through the ruse and are looking for objectivity in media broadcasts. After all, mainstream media is owned by large conglomerates who use the media not so much to make advertising dollars, but much more lucratively to try to shape public opinion and public perception to serve their ultimate agendas.

In the case of CNN, much of it is coming from the man at the top of the pyramid: president Jeff Zucker. In the video, CNN Media Coordinator Nick Neville lays out Zucker’s undue influence in no uncertain terms:

Like, there are a lot of people who are out here trying to play like, just do what they think is the best journalistic integrity. Then you get on the 9am call and the big boss, Jeff Zucker, f**king tells what to do.”

And it’s like, you have to, like…to a certain extent, you have to follow his verdict.”

The Takeaway

We are in a time when the need for objective journalism is more critical than ever. This testimony from whistleblower Cary Poarch is all the more reason for us to stop looking at mainstream media for the facts and a neutral perspective. You can support CE’s efforts to bring that neutral perspective in our journalism and broadcasts by becoming a member of our censorship-free video platform, CETV.

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