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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.

--> Our latest podcast episode: Were humans created by extraterrestrials? Joe sits down with Bruce Fenton, multidisciplinary researcher and author to explore the fascinating evidence behind this question. Click here to listen!

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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FBI Confirms Report of “Cylindrical” UFO “Moving Really Fast” Over New Mexico

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CE Staff Writer 4 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The FBI has now confirmed that they are aware of the American Airlines pilot's UFO report. They did not say they are officially investigating the incident any further. The incident remains a mystery.

  • Reflect On:

    The increase in UFO coverage and reporting in mainstream media is raising public awareness about how prominent and well documented the subject is. What does the reality of the UFO phenomenon mean to you? Does it change your worldview?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

On Sunday Feb. 21, 2021 a pilot on American Airlines flight 2292 from Cincinnati to Phoenix reported seeing a long cylindrical object fly very fast over New Mexico, reporting that it looked a lot like a cruise missile. Now, the FBI has confirmed that they are aware of the mysterious report but did not say whether they are investigating any further.

The pilots report, which can be heard here, went like this:

“Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us – I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing – moving really fast right over the top of us.”

Steve Douglass, an experienced radio interceptor, was the first to report on the incident and claimed he heard the pilot’s transmission while recording from his multiple scanners.

Initially, American Airlines did not confirm that they had information the incident had happened, but later on, they provided a different story to journalists at The Drive who pressed for more info.

American Airlines initial response:

“At this time, we do not have any indication the radio transmission was from the flight crew on board American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,” an airline rep told the outlet initially.

American Airlines updated response:

“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,”

On Feb. 25th, a FBI spokesperson Frank Connor told Fox News in an email that:

“The FBI is aware of the reported incident, […] While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public. Anyone who is aware of suspicious or criminal activity should contact their local law enforcement agency or the FBI,”

The Federal Aviation Administration did release a short statement regarding the incident as well:

A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.

Up to this point this incident remains a mystery. It is unclear if further formal investigation is happening behind the scenes, but given what we’ve learned over our years of researching this subject, intelligence agencies tend to take these incidents significantly more seriously than they make the public aware of.

There has been a long term veil of secrecy surrounding the UFO phenomenon and only in recent years has the discussion turned more mainstream. It has been interesting to see further media publications pop up who are now taking this phenomenon a lot more seriously as well. This will continue to push this conversation into the mainstream over the course of time.

While it’s always intriguing to explore these new reports, there is decades of research and credible whistleblower testimony that fill in a great deal of ‘blanks’ when it comes to questions regarding the UFO and ET phenomenon. Indeed we know a lot more than what is being circulated in mainstream media at this time, and the phenomenon delves deeply into the field of consciousness research.

I recently received permission to release my full, raw, interview for the Dr. Steven Greer’s latest film ‘Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind.’ In it I cover my perspectives on discerning mainstream coverage of the UFO subject, the societal and cultural implications of the phenomenon, and what it means for humanity as a whole. You can watch the full interview exclusively on CETV.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

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Alternative News

Global Food & Farming Issues: Dr. Vandana Shiva Slams Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg & Monsanto

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Physicist, environmental activist and renowned author Dr. Vandana Shiva explains modern day global food and farming issues. There are links within the article to her very informative work.

  • Reflect On:

    When organic agriculture has shown to be the best way to feed the world, why do giant corporations insist on taking over and doing things their way? Why do they have so much sway over government policy?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a renowned author, environmental activist, and physicist. Shiva founded Navdanya, an international movement started 30 years ago in India to defend seed and food sovereignty and small farmers around the world.  Navdanya pioneered the movement of seed saving and seed freedom, which began in response to the crisis of erosion of agricultural biodiversity and introduction of GMOs and patents on seeds through intellectual property rights (IPRs) and so-called ‘free trade’ agreements. It has long fought against biopiracy, the patenting of indigenous knowledge by self-interested multinational corporations and won cases related to Neem, basmati rice and wheat in India. Navdanya promotes a new agricultural and economic paradigm, a culture of food for health, where ecological responsibility and economic justice replace the present greed, consumerism and competition which have become dominant in society. It aims at regaining the common good as a foundation for a renewed sense of community, solidarity and culture of peace.

In the last 30 years, Navdanya’s research on Biodiversity based Agro-ecological farming has shown how Agroecology can increase nutrition and health, as well as farmers incomes while rejuvenating soil, water and biodiversity and enhancing climate resilience. They have a membership of more than 650,000 farmer families in 22 states of India. According to Navdanya:

The COVID public health crisis and its resulting economic devastation have accelerated calls to respond through the ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism through embracing the fourth industrial revolution. For food systems, this would mean a ‘food systems transformation’ where all areas of the food supply chain are further centralized, digitized, and mined for data in the false names of ‘public health’ and ‘economic recovery’. This push is now being supported by international organizations and world leaders who stand hand-in-hand with big corporations’ desires for further agrifood system concentration. This translated to a more aggressive push toward false solutions of farms managed through artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms, precision farming, fake foods- such as lab-grown meat, synthetically produced oils, and breastmilk- robot pollinators, biofortification, gene drives for more advanced forms of GMOs, and digital sequencing genetic information (DSI) of agro-diversity.

They recently put out a very informative report titled “Gates to A Global Empire.” Be sure to check it out. I suggest you read a recent article written by Dr. Shiva (her twitter account) titled, “Indian farmers’ 30 year struggle against corporate globalisation and 40 year struggle against the green revolution.” Her books are also a great resource documenting the takeover of seed and the immoral and unethical actions of big corporations, like Monsanto, in India and all over the world.

The clip below is from 2019 but it’s still very informative.

 

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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‘Big Short’ Investor Michael Burry Warns Central Governments Could Squash Bitcoin

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CE Staff Writer 6 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Well known hedge fund Michael Burry feels that Bitcoin could be squashed by the "legally violent, heartless central governments" who won't allow Bitcoin to stay decentralized.

  • Reflect On:

    Our societal structures, like the economy, are certainly in question as many continue to lose faith in them. Is the path towards a better future through cryptocurrency? Could humanity dream up a world without money?

Before you begin...

Coherent icon

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

You might remember the famed hedge fund manager Michael Burry from the film ‘Big Short,’ his character was played by Christian Bale. He is best known for forecasting the 2008 financial crisis, and he made billions from that bet. In a recent tweet, Burry has suggested that governments could “squash” Bitcoin (BTC) in a coming inflationary crisis due to further pandemic stimulus.

Burry also feels that further regulation of the decentralized currency could hamper BTC’s performance in the long term. With one of the main motivations behind cryptocurrency’s like BTC being that they are intended to operate outside of government control and regulation, you can bet that the millions who invest in crypto intend that it stays that way – out of the governments reach.

In a now deleted series of Tweets, Michael Burry stated some intriguing opinions about Bitcoin and potential government interventions:

I don’t hate BTC. However, in my view, the long term future is tenuous for decentralized crypto in a world of legally violent, heartless centralized governments with lifeblood interests in monopolies on currencies. In the short run anything is possible – why I am not short BTC.

Burry claiming he is not ‘short’ on BTC means he is not betting that its price will fall significantly anytime soon.

One of the major reasons Burry feels governments could squash BTC is due to coming inflation as a result of more pandemic stimulus. “In an inflationary crisis, governments will move to squash competitors in the currency arena. $BTC #gold,” he said.  As you can sense by Burry’s words, he feels governments will do anything in their power to maintain control over their own currencies, and protect them at all costs, regardless whether it’s what benefits people most or not.

In his recent string of tweets he discussed Germany’s path to hyperinflation in the 1920s. He currently sees America’s economic trajectory to be similar to the post-World War I climate that eventually led to a 320% monthly inflation rate in the country.

If Burry is right about the upcoming inflation and the governments potential regulatory actions on BTC, this will be the 2nd time in recent years that he predicted a seismic shift in the US economy.

“People say I didn’t warn last time, I did, but no one listened. So I warn this time. And still, no one listens. But I will have proof I warned.” – Burry said in a tweet.

Modern Structures Are Failing

This inevitably brings up the discussion of our current way of life when thinking about our societal design. Does a capitalistic economy really create a world where people can thrive? Does it inspire big business and governments to think about people’s well being first? Or does it motivate them to think of profits first? Perhaps it’s our underlying worldview of competition and separation that causes us to create society in this manner? Either way, history over the last 30 years has shown us that financial crisis’ are happening at a faster rate, each time pushing more and more people into a lower socio-economic class while the few become richer. Aside from available spending money, think of how this affects people’s basic ability to survive and enjoy life.

COVID-19 served to make billionaires even bigger billionaires, while the average person struggles to get a job, feed their family and make basic payments. Is this a world we want to live in? Does this truly feel like what we’re capable of or are we being convinced to accept something because someone said so?

Are we really to support the idea that governments should regulate cryptocurrency, a means of exchange that is outside their control? What’s the motivation behind their regulation? As faith in our institutions crumbles year after year, is the culture within governance feeling their increasing loss of power over the people?

I don’t intend to write a lengthy piece deeply exploring the ins and outs of our economic model and why it’s not serving the people, I’ll save that for another time. I sense that the questions I’ve posed will already bring up thoughts and feelings within you that tend to ‘know’ our current ways aren’t working to help people thrive, perhaps that’s enough.

Where I’m curious to push the envelope a little further is in the question of why do we believe that we need currency and exchange to begin with? Why must our economies work the way we do? Have we really chosen to ask this question? Or have we accepted the limited and dishonest historical belief that “we tried everything else and this is best?”

A radical idea to consider I know, but one I invite you to imagine for just a moment. Given all the the incredible technology we have available to us today, can we really not imagine a society where money is not required? Given the emerging information in post material science that is telling us a different story about the nature of humans, can we honestly say we are simply competitive and warring animals still?

For just a moment, set aside the judgements someone might cast upon you for considering that we could live in a world without money, things like “that’s socialism!” or  “That’s communism!” If you were tasked with the project of coming up with a way to live in our world without money, how might it look? How would we go about creating that type of community?

Aside from what we’re commonly told, human beings are incredible, with extraordinary abilities to connect, build community and solve problems. If we changed the conversation from “that’s never going to be possible” to “how might we actually go about doing this?” that innocent little shift allows us to be open, sense possibility and activate our creativity, even if it means we aren’t going to take action right away.

I’ve been doing this sort of work and asking these questions my whole life – professionally for 13 years – I don’t hold the naive position that all of this can just happen on its own or that we don’t require deep questioning of our current worldview, I recognize all of this is necessary. What I am saying though is, if we don’t begin to think and explore down this path, we can’t ever make things ‘better.’

So what are you choosing to do? Accept the world as it is today? Or are you open to imagining a world where people can truly thrive?

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading
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