Time to start thinking Financial Conservation!
An infinite amount of time and resources are spent in making the language of conservation universal in its reach. As a result, the basic necessity of mindfully conserving and not wasting our natural resources has been firmly established. The Green Message is Everywhere. And we have seen how this message is truly effective when directed at the grassroots individual level.
It would be a small step, not a great leap, to apply this pervasive awareness of the core principles of conservation to our individual financial resources that are finite and equally important to our basic survival and quality of life on this planet. In so doing, we will provide a more reliable foundation as well as the example necessary to help ensure that current and future generations are prepared and equipped to Stay in Step with the Life Cycles.
It cannot be determined by anyone with certainty ahead of time how the timing of the markets -- up phase or down phase -- in any asset class will stack up against the timing of an individual's unalterable life cycles and the various levels of life responsibilities and obligations that kick in at each stage. Consider Core Asset Conservation whereby you first distinguish your core financial assets -- those assets necessary to keep you in step with the life cycles -- from non-core financial assets. Place core financial assets in financial vehicles that guarantee -- up front -- Safety of Principal and Locked-In Gains as achieved. Diversification of risks is a concept best applied to remaining non-core financial assets.
Granted this is not an approach suited for everyone, but neither was the much touted notion of "diversifying risks" of all of an individual's assets -- both core and non-core -- through the popular asset allocation models that lead many to believe they were protected and would have the money they were relying on to meet their various life needs as they arrived at the later stages of life. This obviously turned out not to be the case on a massive scale and a great number of people reaching across generations have been severely and, in many cases, unalterably damaged.
It is the trader/speculator mindset that created and dominates the current as well all other volatile economic environments of the past. Since we can't expect the historic profits now flowing to the savviest of the trader/speculator type to act as a disincentive to this type of behavior, it's anyone's guess as to when some kind of equilibrium will be restored to the markets. In the meantime, for financial journalist and the main stream media outlets they work for to continue telling the average investor in today's highly volatile and unstable economic environment that they are just going to have to run faster and do a better job of diversifying risks to keep up with the trader/speculators who had them "outgunned" from the start is flagrantly misleading and irresponsible.
All power and good luck to those who think they are well suited for big casino action; however, for the great many who are not so inclined or equipped and whose time and efforts for the greater good of everyone are devoted to making the real economy actually function, the playing field is not level and they remain at a distinct disadvantage.
In good faith and good conscience, more focus and attention in the mainstream media needs to be brought to this ongoing disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.
Viewing the 'Financial Services' Category
There has been for some time a disconnect between the financial markets and the real economy which they are suppose to reflect.
An infinite amount of resource and focus is given, from the grassroots level on up, to being aware of the necessity to conserve -- not waste or destroy -- our natural resources. It is a small step, not a great leap, to apply the same established principles of conservation to our financial resources that are equally necessary to support and keep us in step with the unalterable stages of life.
Consider the following:
- The financial crisis has greatly underscored the fact that economic and market forecasts are not reliable. What planning principles that are based on accommodating change can the individual look to that will compensate for this shortfall in reliability?
- How many times is it desirable or feasible in the span of a normal lifetime to rebuild life-accumulated core financial assets once you have experienced sizable losses during volatile periods in the financial markets? And how does age factor into this picture?
- What is a comprehensive alternative that will eliminate direct exposure to the uncertainties of the financial markets and provide for the safe and secure growth of the core financial assets that you depend on for such things as making a down payment on a home, paying for future college tuition or maintaining your lifestyle in retirement?
The risk factor is shifting. Because of growing uncertainty in the market cycles and the health sciences keeping people alive longer, in order to limit their long term exposure, many employers, large and small, for some years now have instituted a shift away from the traditional defined benefit plans that provide guaranteed levels of retirement income to different forms of defined contribution plans. During the go-go period of The Big M, it went largely unnoticed by many that in this shift a large part of the risks associated with how this money was invested was being pushed from the employing entity to the individual employee.
The batting averages don't match. It is a known fact, that for many of the high-profile financial experts, a batting average of .500 is considered to be at the high end of their range of accuracy. In other words, the top people are right about 50 percent of the time and our current predicament bares this out. However, for the vast majority of people whose expertise lies elsewhere in all of the countless categories necessary to make this or any society really function, their batting average by definition must be a lot higher than .500, or they wouldn't last very long in their chosen fields. Many of what I would call the real experts invested their hard-earned life savings largely based on historical trust in a financial system that most failed to understand was morphing before their very eyes. It's reasonable to think that if this gap between batting averages was narrowed, the overall exposure to our society would be reduced accordingly.
Taking the risk out of risk. Knowing that core assets are safe and that you are not over-exposed to risk greatly helps in avoiding back-against-the-wall syndrome where you may be forced to sell out and lock-in losses out of panic or just to meet basic lifestyle needs during the more severe down cycles. By keeping your level of exposure manageable, you are essentially taking the risk out of risk by being in a more safe and secure position to ride out unexpected storms until balance in the system once again restores itself.
The real tipping point. No doubt, many of us have accomplished the goal of taking personal responsibility for the safeguard of our life savings. But the real tipping point that will take this country in a healthier direction over the long term will not be the short term massive spending plans of the system - the debate of which will be left to other forums - but a growing number of average people who are the ones really responsible for making this society function, day in and day out, realizing, once again, that as it always ends on them, it has to start with them.
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