One good thing (perhaps the only good thing) coming out of the current financial meltdown is that I no longer have to listen to the self-serving hype of financial "advisors" claiming to know what is best for me ... such as:
1. "There is no better investment a person can make than buying a house."
A particular favorite of real estate agents and the National Association of Realtors.
2. "A diversified stock portfolio is the best investment strategy there is."
Even before the meltdown, my S&P index fund was about where it was ten years prior.
3. "Annuities are a great investment because they protect your downside."
Only if you die.
4. "Fannie Mae ... great stock ... has the implicit backing of the U.S. Government."
5. "Mortgage securities rated AAA - can't make a better investment than that."
Downgraded to junk status shortly thereafter.
6. "A mortgage broker can help you find the best mortgage available."
The higher the interest rate you pay, the more the mortgage broker makes.
7. "Cash or cash equivalents are dumb - you lose to inflation."
The only investment I have that has not lost value.
8. "A laddered portfolio of municipal bonds is your safest approach."
Except when municipalities claim they need a bailout to survive.
9. "Buy great American companies like GE and you can't go wrong."
And so I bought GE at $50/share.
10. "What are you going to do ... put your money under a mattress?"
Not a bad strategy right now.
Jim Randel is the author of The Skinny on the Housing Crisis (Clover Leaf 2008) and Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur (McGraw Hill 2006).