The “Easy Money” Myth

On the five-year anniversary of the market’s bottom, you’re hearing quite a bit of revisionist history – mostly from people who’ve worked against your well-being, even if it wasn’t intentional. What they’re saying now is that “It’s been easy money” over the last five years, and that “anyone could’ve made profits.”

Forgive me, but this is complete and total bullshit.

It’s been one of the hardest environments in market history. Never before have investors’ wounds been so raw. Never before have there been so many voices polluting the popular consciousness with half-baked conspiracy theories and calls for collapse. Never have there been such a dizzying array of investment vehicle options to confuse and confound. Never have the perceived risks been quite as ferocious.

In the last five years, investors have dealt with a non-functioning congress, a downgrade of the US Treasury, mass unemployment, exploding deficits, record debt, a possible dissolution of Europe and a slow-motion crash in China and the emerging markets – and that’s before we even get into any specifics. And not only have the threats been unprecedented, the amplification of them – thanks to the desperation of the mainstream media for attention coupled with the advent of a whole new chattering class on social media – has been like an orchestra of clanging pots and pans, car alarms and doberman barks, shrieks and howls, thunder and lightning. Every step of the way some motherf*cker’s been screaming about something about to crash, the calamity waiting around the corner, the next shoe to drop.

And I’m not even including the individual siren songs of all the charlatans – the Black Swan hypochondriacs, the long-shorts and market-neutrals who couldn’t outperform the interest on a checking account, the macro newsletter geriatrics who’ve wasted hours of your life with their freestyle declinist noodling, the televised shoutfests, the player-haters at the newspaper who couldn’t wait to remind you how bad everything “really” was, the alarmist bloggers who’ve had free reign to say basically anything with zero recourse, the political operatives posing as economics experts, and on and on. Your ability to stiff-arm them all as you’ve nudged your way just a bit further toward retirement is to be commended.

If you’ve caught some or all of what the market has given us these last five years, you are a hero. Because nothing about staying in stocks has been a piece of cake since the bottom.

Easy money, my ass. You must be joking.

 

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