Last spring, I invited all of my clients to hear what I felt was important information from a leading economist explaining why real estate might be a bad investment choice in the coming months. Today. I had lunch with my client Mr. Bet. Like many, his portfolio has been devastated over the last few weeks. He didn’t listen last spring and is suffering more than most now.
Mr. Bet, I said, don’t you remember that meeting? I know, I know, he said. I just didn’t pay attention.
Not only did he not pay attention, neither did the person managing his portfolio who put him in a real estate fund just about the time it was becoming clear that real estate was crashing. Bad move, Mr. Bet. Not that many foresaw the extreme degree of current economic volatility. But there have been many signs that things were not quite right.
For example, three years ago, I took out a sizable home
equity loan for a significant remodeling. Several real estate agents suggested I take out a balloon loan…. I didn’t…. Others told me to go to Countrywide because they were so easy…. I didn’t….. I went with a much more conservative company that is still in business. It took longer to get the loan, more hoops to jump, and they provided a better interest rate.
I’m no financial genius, far from it. It’s just that many trite truisms pan out: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The issue isn’t dwelling on the past. The issue now is, what can we learn from what is happening and what can we do differently?
It may be that this coming election is the most important of the last 80 years, not because of the McCain/Obama competition, but because of Congress. They are the guys passing legislation that they don’t understand and who lobby like Lucifer for earmarks while the world was sinking faster than the Titanic.
And the biggest problem of all? Most of the people who have the education and experience to understand the economnic issues facing us would not run for office if their lives depended on it.