One of the more bothersome trends in recent years has been how so many people are looking to point the finger at someone else when it comes to what’s transpired in the economy over the last few decades. Most people just blame the government because it’s an easy target. Others blame the bankers because they’re an even easier target. But you rarely if ever hear anyone saying “that guy in the mirror really messed up”.
I often blame financialization for much of the negative trends in recent decades. But I also don’t just blindly blame bankers or deregulation. Why? Because the blame doesn’t only fall on their shoulders. For instance, the financial industry didn’t become huge just because the government willed it into existence. What we have to understand is that finance is huge because the demand is huge. It’s no different than the housing bust. Some people like to claim that the banks sold all those houses fraudulently. But it takes two to tango. Someone signed the dotted line. And you weren’t buying your morning coffee. You were making the most important purchase of your life. And you failed to understand the market, the product structure, etc etc. And when it all crashed down everyone pointed at someone else to blame. What we have in America is a crisis in accountability.
If you’ve ever been to an AA meeting (by some miracle my Russian/Irish heritage has sidestepped this trap thus far) you know that the first step in resolving any problem is self acceptance. But we seem to have the exact opposite approach. We blame everyone else and in doing so totally fail to head down the path of real recovery. If we’re ever going to fix these big macro problems we have to first understand what causes them. Otherwise we’re just going ’round in circles.
This is why I believe education is so key and it’s why I invest so much of my time and energy in helping people better understand the world of money. We need to educate people about money and the monetary system. That’s how you reduce demand for Wall Street. You make people smarter. Empower them. We can’t rely on the government or someone else to fix everything. And that’s coming from a guy who wants to regulate the hell out of banks. WE need to fix this. It starts with the person in the mirror. I often say that the best investment you’ll ever make is an investment in yourself. But you can’t do that if you’re constantly looking to push accountability off on someone else….
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.