Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quote of the Week

As usual, I've got some catching up to do here on the blog. We'll start things off today with your belated Quote of the Week, then your Clip of the Week will be right behind it. I may throw in an extra post just for kicks, but I'll probably hold off on it until tomorrow—you all know how much I love writing on Fridays.

The leader in the clubhouse for this week's Quote was this post over on the Marginal Revolution blog, which shared some seriously bizarre tidbits about people's intense love for K-Pop (what's K-Pop? This is K-Pop; so is this). Fanaticism knows few bounds, apparently.

But then I came across this post at The Motley Fool, which was frankly so terrifying that I couldn't help but write about it on the blog. So here's your Quote of the Week... go America.


"As part of the Dodd-Frank Act, lawmakers directed the [Securities & Exchange Commission] to figure out how much average investors knew about the stocks and mutual funds that they held. Here's what they found: You are an idiot... Statistically, the SEC found that American investors—regardless of age, race, or gender—'lack basic financial literacy,' and that they generally do not understand even 'the most elementary financial concepts such as compound interest and inflation.' The surveys suggest that certain sub-groups, including the elderly... 'have an even greater lack of investment knowledge' of concepts like the difference between stocks and bonds, and are unaware of investment costs and their impact on investment returns.
                                                  - Bill Mann, Motley Fool Funds

What's perhaps most concerning about this post is what Mann later points out—this study didn't consider ALL Americans, it ONLY CONSIDERED THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY DEEMED TO BE ACTIVE INVESTORS. If active investors can't adequately answer a question like "what's a stock", then I admit that I have seriously overestimated the intelligence level of my nation. Unfortunately, it appears that's the case.

Now, granted, my inner tin-foil-hat man does look at this survey data with a fair bit of skepticism, recognizing that the SEC has a vested interest in reporting that investors are gullible fools who need to be saved from themselves (by the SEC, of course). That said, I have a very hard time contradicting the study's results—frankly, it all sounds just about right.

If you watch the Presidential (and Vice Presidential) debates this fall, and you start to notice that the candidates are speaking about the economy and the markets in a way that seems designed to confuse, please know that it's absolutely on purpose—they assume that you don't understand this stuff, so it's in their interest to speak in circles so as to confuse you.

You won't know the difference either way, and you'll therefore be forced to choose the guy who "looked the best" doing it. That is, unless you choose to educate yourself. And if you read this blog, I'd like to think that you're already doing so. Otherwise, I've probably been confusing the hell out of you for a long time now. My bad, guys.

[Motley Fool]

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