Invest…or go to the track?
Yesterday was kinda strange. I just posted about how I came across a rather disturbing article about a study of potentially serious glitches in computer stock trading. Coincidentally, my wife and I had been invited to an investment seminar yesterday too. I’ve been to a number of these over the years, but this was the first one since the boondoggle of 2008. I was struck by how this program was just like all the earlier ones. It was business-as-usual with explanations of stocks vs. bonds, the ups and downs of the stock market, risk vs. growth, etc., etc. They talked about the Greek debt problem, but what seemed curiously missing was any indication that the “Great Recession” has any lessons for us investors. It was just a hiccup in the ideology that these things work themselves out eventually. Since about 2/3 of the people in the room were over retirement age, I’m not sure that old song made much of an impression. We don’t have as much “eventually” as we used to.
The article on the future of trading with it potentially run-amuk computer systems and the “nothing new” attitude of the investment firm left me with the feeling that I think a lot of people have developed: We don’t know what’s really going on. The investment agent doesn’t know much more than I do. My paranoia says there’s a relatively small number of big-time financial manipulators out there who know much, much more that we little people do because it’s their whole life. And even they get caught in their own snares.
My wife and I have a friend who’s smart, an ex-FBI agent, and an avid horse race fan. We went to a track once with him, and by the time we got back I had learned that there is a lot going on behind the scenes of any horse race betters don’t know about that can affect the outcome. So, if you go to the track with $100 or $500 dollars to play with, you ought to consider it entertainment that you can afford to spend. Have a few drinks, get excited when the horses run, but don’t bet the rent; you don’t have a chance.