Sunday, November 01, 2015

Gambling and other Myths

There are many who ridicule casino gambling by saying, "I've got better things to do with my money".  Ironically, a few of those will lose their assets through unethical, and risky venture capital schemes. Another eschews the stock market as a glorified ponzi scheme, and invests heavily in Gold as the ultimate protector of wealth. Gold has had a sell off akin to a major stock market crash. The Stock Market has rebounded nicely in recent years thanks to aggressive Federal Reserve policies, but it still hasn't regained a decade of losses. At one time owning a house was as close to a sure bet investment as anything, but we all know what happened in the 2008 financial crisis, and the ensuing melt down in housing prices. All sorts of investment vehicles have been promoted over the years with varying degrees of success. It seems that markets reel from one bubble to the next, with each bubble usually exacerbated by leverage and debt. The famous economist John Galbraith in his book "A brief history of financial euphoria" readily describes the common features and circumstances that have given rise to some famous financial bubbles including the Tulip Mania of Holland back in the 17th Century. History it seems, has a bad habit of repeating itself. 

What then is the answer to creating and preserving wealth? Forgive the following sermon, but it still comes down to a vocation that pays, common sense, diversification, and a bit of luck or good fortune in life. You also have to avoid the scammers and get rich quick schemes along the way. Greed and ignorance will generally get you in trouble, although there are many "legitimate" ways to lose money too, as already mentioned.

Don't fool yourself, investing is still gambling, although some bets are better and more informed than others. Sometimes a casino bet has much better odds than more traditional investments.  At least in a casino you can generally calculate the odds against you. There are more than a few companies that have had their stock prices drop to zero - a few of them have been Dow Index companies. Thus investing, speculating and gambling are all part of the same spectrum. Perhaps a successful professional poker player isn't really a gambler, but a seasoned investor. Things are not always what they appear to be based upon their labels. Good Luck and Good Investing.
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