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A New Generation

The Underpinnings of a Dysfunctional New Investor 

- By The Notorious CFP®

DISCLAIMER: Please note that whenever I refer to 'Millennials' and 'Zoomers,' I'm not just referencing Americans born between the years 1980 - 1996 and 1997 - 2020, respectively). I'm also referring to those that raised them as well as those who act like them. Behaving like a child (the most general and accurate theme of both generations, and now society) is a state of mind more than an actual immutable characteristic of people born between two specific dates. I know plenty of people on both sides of these guideposts who act like the other, just like you. However, it's more useful and entertaining to target the young because the majority are a.) functionally illiterate and therefore less likely to read my musings, and b.) disabled in most respects, through no fault of their own. It's also just funny as hell. If you disagree or take umbrage with this or any of my commentary; please start your own business, website and blog and I'd be thrilled to post your rebuttal. You know where to find me, at the office. - B.S.

Unicorns and Ponies, Pooping Gum Drops of Money

I am confident that a big part of the extreme volatility we're witnessing today is related to is a new generation of "market participants."  I stop short of calling many of them investors. Quite a few are simply gambling addicts... I find that many of my clients that are still perplexed by meme stocks and cryptocurrency may have never considered how much the 2020-2021 explosion in price (which I - and Warren Buffett - like to distinguish from value) was simply the result of a perfect cosmic collision of free government money, strict lockdowns and frankly, a lack of professional sports to wager on. As it was, people decided to participate in the stock market. But 2020-21 could have just as easily seen the rise in cockfighting, midget wrestling (do people still call it that?) or the WNBA.

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

― Ernest Hemingway

We all assume that financial markets have risen dramatically post-COVID because a lot of new, sophisticated (and trending young) investors with their superior intellect have entered the market and uncovered new value in the form of great, undervalued companies. They have not. Many of these participants were simply tossing free stimulus money that they didn't earn into a casino called the stock market using a sophisticated strategy called day trading in order to have some fun and stave off boredom during lockdown. 

This is not a complex phenomenon to understand- they simply wanted to try their hand at becoming rich quick without putting in the effort, which I consider pretty much the religion of many Millennials and Zoomers (and many of their elders) who have decided that hard work is antiquated and dumb. When I press them, they think that paying dues for 20+ years is hilarious, and contrary to the musing of their favorite Tik-Tok and Instagram celebrities, like Robert Kiyosaki, Grant Cardano and Stephen Graham. To many new investors, speculating in the stock market with taxpayer money was the logical result of cancelled professional sports. 

Like a casino, the Federal Reserve's capital has slowly been taking back from naïve investors of all ages over the past year, either indirectly through their initial losses investment of capital (checks from the Treasury that eventually transferred into the coffers of large US global conglomerates) and/or directly through the eventual sell out (of their shares) to the investment brokerage houses and exchanges themselves. 'Cuz for every seller, there is a buyer. Now the Fed is entering their second phase of confiscation of short-term speculator assets, where they remove the stimmy cash via inflation (lighting your savings  on fire) or increased interest rates (through higher borrowing costs to the banks.) 

It's absolutely critical to understand that a huge reason why the market is down right now is that this is what the Federal Reserve wants. It's very possible that investors who are selling now are simply the pawns. For them, the game is no longer fun when you're not winning while still also believing that you possess some unique and special stock-picking skill ("Ooh, I'll buy Apple and Tesla in 2020-2021 because they're making Wi-Fi satellites and electric cars and I can see the future that others can't..." Very contrarian!)

The market is down because the Fed needs stock prices - and all other prices in this country- to cool temporarily. They are manipulating investor behavior in order to accomplish this objective. And they are literally telling you what they're doing. That is, unless you can specifically point to some entity like Enron, Lehman Bros or the World Trade Center that has collapsed and directly caused the 2022 sell-off? You probably can't because there hasn't been one.

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” - Dr. Maya Angelou

In the last year, we've seen a mass sell-off of virtually all equity (stock) shares. Next quarter, the most hated asset could very well be all the new cars that were bought in 2020-21 with their stimmy money. Next year it should be some other massively overvalued asset, maybe homes or personal property. That's literally what many people believe that recessions and corrections are designed to do: they allow the free markets to redistribute the wealth that the government took from large assets owners and high income earners and redistribute it back to them. It's essentially the legal laundering of money through the Hoi polloi who like to buy high and sell low in every economic cycle. Like printing money; the President, the Congress and the Fed are quite familiar with the wealth cycle - in anti-Robinhood approach- and their role in it. The average investors is not (or they easily forget). Which is why the former always win and the latter often lose. 

My point is that rarely do people - especially decent people who live outside major urban cores and avoid most MSM and cultural drama - appreciate how much of crypto's modern interest and sudden 2020-2021 rally aligns with Western society's mass embrace of speculation. Said more bluntly (my specialty), we simply can't appreciate how dumb the average American is. 

For instance, below is the 2022 performance of Bitcoin (in blue) and one of the largest index funds tracking legal gambling companies (in yellow), Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (BETZ):

If you don't see the correlation between the two industries most designed to extract wealth from their customers, look closer....

Do you see any pattern between legal gambling and crypto-speculation?

Lest you think I'm exaggerating or being too mean...

"Ramiro Flores set the same ground rules when he bought Bitcoin for the first time in 2018. 'I like gambling. I go to Vegas quite a lot,' he says. 'So, I was like, 'Hey, you know what? Like, this is just like a little trip to the casino.' Flores, who used to be a firefighter in Edinburg, Texas, remembers talking about cryptocurrency in the firehouse. After he did some research, he bought $2,000 worth of Bitcoin." - NPR

"For Milkowski, the ups and downs — well, especially the downs — got to be too much, and she decided to get off. "There's definitely peace that comes with just selling off such a volatile asset," she says. "I don't have to worry, 'Am I losing $500, $1,000 today?'" In May, Milkowski cashed out completely. She decided to cut her losses, which ended up being around $8,000." - NPR

It is true that a few of these financial whippersnappers got rich (and then poor) trading crypto-currency (i.e. Bitcoin). Other's initial market experience may have been Robinhood-gamified trading on their smartphones against large hedge fund short positions inspired by Reddit's Wall St Bets activism, or something in that spirit. They aspire to get rich quick, have very short-term time attention spans and horizons (less than 5-10 years), no defined goals aside from FIRE ("financial independence, retire early"), ambiguous vigilantism and little-to-no appreciation nor concerns for a company's true economic fundamentals. 

Crypto enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes (literally), from the very highly intelligent to the dangerously naïve. One of the easiest marks of the latter (including the infamous 'crypto bros,') is that they're skeptical of- and sometimes even offended by-  the idea that wealth should generally be derived from work. Achieving success from extraordinary effort and personal sacrifice is a foreign concept to many in a generation of Americans who have received trophies, accolades and support for coming in ninth place their whole life. 

I don't think we appreciate how much this cultural zeitgeist collides with and then impacts the modern investing landscape; they worship at the altar of social media influencers who have very little talent or are simply famous for being famous, like Dan Bilzerian, Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton. They ascribe anything that comes to them through screens as reality, when as we all know, it's almost always the opposite. There's a reason Facebook changed their name to Meta, it was partially to escape their commonly-ascribed and accepted nickname: Fakebook.

A disproportionate number of crypto fans fail to appreciate (or conveniently ignore) any contradiction with the reality that the value of a specific crypto token only rises based on increased adoption (for instance, how many future participants that current Bitcoin owners can find to come in after them) and not human labor nor intelligence. It all starts to resemble those characteristics of a pyramid scheme to me, but what do I know... Maybe you can 10X your money in a single year based on your superior intellect without getting off your couch? Granted, my strategy has been to work 60-hour weeks for 25+ years, so perhaps I'm not the best person to opine on this topic.

The Real Racists

Another community that eagerly embraced cryptocurrency was self-perceived victims - sometimes represented in minority populations- who feel left behind by the current financial system and have been led to believe that capitalism is a corrupt game rigged specifically against them, because of their genitals or skin pigment or what-not (which seems like an odd perspective to adopt.) As a result, they perceive actual US dollars - with these crusty evil old white men on them - who originally created these slips of paper and are not forcing anyone to use them - as systematically oppressive. 

Personally, I feel like being born in this country of any race, creed or sex is pretty much like winning a lottery that you didn't even buy a ticket for. But then again, I've traveled overseas extensively and know that 90% of the world lives wishes they could live like us. I do recognize all of this is easy for me to espouse- I have great parents and work 15-hour days, which is a very effective method to achieving marginal  success in life. I recognize that blaming others is a lot easier than admitting the truth and living in reality.

Capitalism being systematically [pick your self-identity obsession]-ist is admittedly an intoxicating thought for the galactically lazy and those not winning in it, though one I refuse to succumb to myself. But I didn't attend public school in the 21st century so it's hard for me to put myself in their shoes. As a result, many crypto enthusiasts initially identified this exciting new get-rich-quick scheme as their ticket out of disadvantaged situations and poverty, instead of an immoral fraud that has actually been perpetuated on them by well-intentioned but IQ-challenged friends, compromised industry acolytes and minority celebrities looking to make a (US) dollar. Even after the collapse, most of them are still in denial, and frustrated by lacking someone else that they can blame for their folly.

In many ways, for historically marginalized group this feels like the next progression of pop culture (following in the footsteps of hip hop and rap music industries) which have - and continue to - exploit, manipulate and weaken in particular the black population for their own material gain. In fact, many of the most well-known rap artists transitioned into the music industry following years of selling narcotics to their own communities; now cryptocurrency seems to have replicated this script in the finance industry.

Even Kim Kardashian is going to be writing some pretty large checks for ripping off her fans. (For a woman who launched a financial empire by leaking her own sex tape, who could have seen this coming?) In the stock market panic of 1907 (an environment that sounds very familiar!), they were hanging bankers within minutes of the crash. (Which quickly recovered, by the way...) Today, we just let these types of folks write large checks. Times have indeed changed. 

"Blacks are more likely to see the stock market as risky and unfair... The high interest in crypto among blacks springs from the influence of social media and the general popularity of risky investments among black people... Black consumers in particular see crypto as an opportunity to build wealth outside of a traditional system that has not served them well historically... 'the black community sees crypto as a way to even the playing field and get in the game before the gatekeepers prevent others from participating.'” - ZeroHedge, Hispanics, Blacks Disproportionately Dinged By Crypto Crash

Say what you want, most disciples of cryptocurrency are true believers, convinced that they see what others cannot (which roughly equates to watching YouTube videos, which is not exactly contrarian behavior). To them, their favorite digital asset is the exception to the rule and will eventually make them rich because they figured out the secret to wealth (which apparently appears to those sleeping in till 7 AM on a workday) before everyone else. 

These acolytes will never shy away from telling you about the asset, the currency, the investment and the promise of a decentralized global financial system. As well as why you should also see the light as well and adopt it as your new store of labor. This blind adherence to the cause is something I recently touched on in my equally-snarky post, Should I Borrow Against Crypto?

ASK BART: Should I Borrow Against Crypto?

What could go wrong?

- By The Notorious CFP®

Productivity = wealth

While recognizing and acting on opportunity - and luck- can certainly represent key components of financial success and long-term wealth accumulation, in my entire career I have yet to uncover a single wealth-generating strategy that does not carry with it some degree of a work component. Without one or the other, I don't believe anyone can achieve true and lasting wealth. It's not enough to simply watch a video and take a course- that's not work. Opening and funding an account with Binance or Coinbase to buy crypto is not work, either.

"The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work." — Thomas A. Edison

I'm gonna' drop some more blasphemy on you that no one in the MSM will tell you:

  1. The financial markets are NOT the best tool for achieving financial success (at least not on their own). 
  2. The markets exist largely for growing wealth after you've already earned it. Usually through labor. 
  3. Said differently, earned income FROM WORK is your greatest wealth building tool (after me and my random musings, of course.) 
  4. Your success in life will be heavily-influenced by your financial situation, which in turn is heavily-influenced by your income
  5. Your income is heavily-influenced by your score on Bart's Four Components of Professional Badassery (patent pending):
    • Is my skillset rare, valuable or in high demand?
    • Am I the best at it?
    • Will people pay me for it?
    • Do I enjoy applying it?

Congratulations, I just saved you $100K in wasted college tuition and six years, you're welcome...

In my experience, the vast majority of wealth is initially accumulated from income or benefits from a J-O-B, either one that is given to you by a company or created by you. Financial markets almost never make people wealthy on their own... Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger representing by far the rarest of exceptions. Some people become financially successful in real estate, and even fewer by levering high levels of debt, but again the real estate equity that they own almost always comes from income or assets from some another productive venture or source. Indeed, Grant Cardano and Robert Kiyosaki are famous specifically because they are so rare. For every one of them, there are multiples of the Millionaire Next Door who will die with more money than they can spend.

I doubt I've had a single client in two decades who could attribute their attainment of financial independence initially, primarily or solely through investing in the stock market. They almost always earn their wealth initially through WORK and then use the financial markets to grow, protect and diversify their wealth. I say this to: a.) humble myself and b.) implant in as many brains as possible a warning that if any influence- human, digital or financial- offers you the chance to achieve financial independence without tangible physical work and significant risk over a reasonably long timeline (decades, usually..) , then you should think of me and immediately put your guard up (not because you're thinking of me... you know what I mean..) That's why lottery winners almost always end up broke and destitute and real estate reality show couples almost always end up as victims

Moreover, another one of the major disrupters in this market today is that many of our newest market participants tend to operate primarily off emotion and hunches (similar to their political and personal lives). I witness this in my office quite frequently. They will claim their behaviors are purely instinctive and innate, one even claimed they were simply "fulfilling their lived truth," but those are primarily myths and lies, respectively. Like men who claim they can multitask. 

When I interact with some of this cohort and we discuss topics like income statements, balance sheets and cash flow, they have no idea what I am talking about. The idea that a company derives some measure of value from it's internal economics and fiscal management is completely lost on them, and it sometimes feels like I'm talking to a wall. Their eyes glaze over and they instead want to tell me about some article they read, or some 'new paradigm' I missed, the growth opportunity of cannabis or EV batteries/ charging stations, or some video that they saw on YouTube. 

Here's a hint: if you are searching for (or finding) investment strategies or advice on specific companies or sectors through online videos, you've already lost. You just don't know it yet. You will not find true enlightenment in video form. It's like getting reliable information from teachers or cable news networks. Or dating advice on Tik Tok. Or life coaching tips from people born in the 21st century. Or economics from politicians. Or parenting from me. 

A New Demographic Enters the Market

Our current economic and market downturns are both "firsts" for our two youngest generations, the much-maligned Millennial and Zoomers, now officially the largest age demographics in the country and Western (i.e. Developed) World. Their heft carries tremendous importance and influence in our society, but few areas have been more impacted than finance.

One of the biggest 'challenges' for these spry digital nomads-  and more than a few in the older generations whom are equally gullible- is that they believe that screens are accurate windows into reality, when it's actually just the opposite. Few of them would articulate it as such, of course. But that's one reason a large proportion appear so misguided, misled and generally inept. That's not a knock on them, just a generational curse that many were handed- like student debt, three recessions and an impossible housing market. Technically, their biggest curse is simply bad parenting (for everyone but your kids, of course), but all other curses are simply symptoms of this. And the subject for another day.

Fortunately, real estate never goes down. So lever up!

Don't get me wrong- some of the smartest, hardest working and successful people I know were born after Reagan was elected. They are out there, they are scary smart and I have plenty of them as clients. But those are few and far between and in general both generations struggle mightily with both intelligence and work ethic. Many of them can barley hold down a conversation nor a job for more than 15 minutes because most of them suffer from the Lake Wobegon Effect (i.e., the belief that they are above average in any meaningful attribute). Perhaps you've noticed. That's why they want to be bosses their first year, will bounce as soon as you train them, and will vent about their bosses on social media.

If there was a less offensive way to state the obvious, believe me I would. I could remain silent about this phenomenon and troubling trend, but pandering and placating them is precisely how they are - and have become - such a challenge in the first place. Those I know and are honest will be the first to agree with this assessment of the culture, which is precisely how I eventually arrived at this realization.

Their condition seems primarily the inevitable result of being raised in an era of mass affluence and "Dr. Spock" parents wanting to be their children's cool best friend "that they can confide in," all over the past forty-year period of the greatest period of prosperity in human history. So the resulting degradation in character and virtue is not a bug, it's a feature. That's harsh, but that's reality.

"Gen Z has received the most structure and attention throughout their upbringing, in comparison to previous generations, and the pre-organized playdates, ongoing extracurriculars, and soft-handed critiques have inhibited their ability to develop grit and gumption." - Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind

As the first generation raised on screens and modern communication technology from a very early age- often as a replacement for dual incomes, empty homes and quality parenting- only a small percentage of Millennials and then Zoomers seem to know how to navigate the world effectively, interact with others, or understand the world or truth. They believe truth is a subjective concept that only they can define for themselves, and that their perspective is their lived truth. It's shockingly narcissistic at it's foundation. But then again, so are we. Most of this cohort would reference Sandy Cortez (AOC) as their most articulate leader...

Years of entitlement have been so deeply embedded into the psyche of a great many young people, as they were funneled through government education facilities on an assembly-line conveyer belt structure. This is not dissimilar to the process employed a hundred years ago to produce workers for the industrial revolution (minus the classes on religion, civics or virtue).

Today's society has (hopefully) evolved, but our academic institutions are operating as if they are still operating in the previous century and economy. This is largely enabled through the implicit collusion of the unions and a federal bureaucracy that wants it that way. Unfortunately, this churns out an abundance of low-skill, low-wage workers that employers prize because they are generally docile, agreeable and easily enticed by a JOB ("just over broke.") 


For the past two decades, enormous campuses have been erected, and increasingly staffed and managed by many well-meaning but ultimately unimpressive and overwhelmed glorified babysitters who spend 7-8 hours each day integrating STAAR Test / Common Core curriculum, intermixed with flawed life concepts and nonsensical ideology adopted during their formative years. Kids are smart and observant, you would think they could better evaluate these messengers to properly determine for themselves whether these individuals should be opining on anything outside of a textbook, but that has not been the case.

An education industrial complex that should be striving to create a final product of better humans is instead producing plenty of unqualified, underdeveloped adult-children ("kidults") who are now often confused, vulnerable and sanctimonious -  never a good combination. 

Before the founding of the Department of Education in 1979, the US was ranked #1 in the world for education. Now, with the abject graft, corruption and malinvestment of resources that is inherent in all bureaucracy, the United States has fallen to 27th place for education. That's a decline few want to acknowledge, much less diagnose, because it would lead to some very uncomfortable truths about who is and who is not truly capable of higher learning, who should be diverted out of and around the university system into separate tracks and professions and who is ultimately to blame.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that central control of education- while effective managing and pacifying a base of academia that reliably votes one way and is also unemployable in the private sector- is about as effective as letting Washington DC control families through social policies. Some people will blame the dramatic decline on student knowledge and wisdom on insufficient spending, but that's ideological claptrap easily dispelled by critical thinkers. Unfortunately this misinformation plays well with people who still consume their news through social media and their phones. It's a theory with no basis in reality

I've learned more in a couple years of videos and podcasts than I did in all of my years in college. And I earned arguably the hardest undergraduate degree in America (a computer engineering degree from an enormous state school that didn't care about me at all and actively tried to weed me out of the department) while simultaneously playing a sanctioned collegiate sport (as starter, captain and president) and working part-time. And if you know me, you know I ain't that smart. If I can discard that level of education, chance are little Tommy and Susie would have been better served in 'higher education' alternatives contrary to the ones they originally took.

The sad truth is that you can enlighten your kids more about real life and global finaneces from a month's worth of ZeroHedge commentary than ten years (the current average) of high school and college combined. Everything you've suffered through in this blog post is proof of that. But most parent won't, because they're too plugged into the matrix, too invested, intoxicated and indoctrinated by the cultural myth of sheepskin.

A great many of parents are obsessed with telling friends where their progeny attend college and have also conditioned themselves to somehow look themselves in the mirror and tell themselves they successfully educated their children via the last remnants of a bygone era (20th century) of higher education. Today, one can come to no other conclusion than sending children into the public school system and/or a liberal arts school is madness. It makes no sense.

Let's examine whether it really is money that the federal government needs to make their education system successful?...

That is a lot of money to be spending per student. The majority is divided between pensions of former educators and salaries of administrators that cost more than they produce.

The short answer is of course, no. The quality of one's education is rarely about the money. It's always and forever about communities and families. Namely two engaged parents, one of whom is in the home during most of the day. And it doesn't matter which one, though thousands of years of humanity - up until about 60 years ago- suggests women are the best teachers and influencers of the(ir) young. 

Many couples prefer to ship their kids off to a daycare run by strangers within the first year, so that they can go back to work. To pay for more strangers. Who are hardly qualified to provide better parenting. But are cheap. To do their job. For money. And now both incomes are taxable. Which the government loves, and which seems to me to be a poor ROI (return on investment) for your kid's mind, body and soul. But who am I to judge? Maybe hiring strangers to do your job half as good will usher in a new age of American prosperity. Besides, stay-at-home parenting is like so patriarchal. (Versus keeping your kids at home and on your insurance until their mid-20s.)

I understand that hurts a lot of feelings. I think we can all agree that hurting feelings- and making it sting- may be something we need to amp up, not down. This living in fantasy land mentality is not working. The federal system is in terminal decline, and it's my assertion that we simply cannot  afford to destroy a fifth consecutive generation of Americans with more comfortable lies.

"Per pupil spending for elementary and secondary public education (pre-K through 12th grade) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 5.0% to $13,187 per pupil during the 2019 fiscal year, compared to $12,559 per pupil in 2018. This is the largest increase in more than a decade. Data for this report covers the fiscal year before the COVID-19 pandemic. The spending increase was due in part to an overall increase in revenue. In 2019, public elementary and secondary schools received $751.7 billion from all revenue sources, up 4.5% from $719.0 billion in 2018." - Annual Survey of School System Finances 2021

Translation: Virtually all public education K-12 is a scam. If the desired end-goal is defined as an enlightened, virtuous citizenry prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, I could create twice the value for half that cost just by myself. My primary change would be to simply make it about the kids again (and not the adults). And I'm borderline illiterate. Imagine what smart people who birthed these kids could do?

In summary, if money solved all our problems, we wouldn't be experiencing societal wisdom (once upon a time the byproduct of formal education) in such disorder and decline. We keep spending more and more money and - like "health" care (below) - it just keeps getting worse and worse. 

If it was about the money, our life expectancies would be going UP with (inflation-adjusted) expenses. The money is needed for control. If our leaders wanted us healthy, they could do it this afternoon. Take, for instance, mask mandates

Honestly, I probably wouldn't hire a college graduate today unless they graduated with a STEM degree from a state school, because of what it might say about anyone who didn't. And I'd vastly prefer someone who entered the workforce out of high school - or preferably middle school- and learned the rest over a year of YouTube. The truth is the younger the hire, the less I would have to unteach them about what they absorbed from 6-18th grade. 

Stevens University  could focus on the aspects of a successful like that really matter- like civics, character and how to dress and show up for work on time, which seem to be the highest-demand skillsets of today's employers. We'd graduate to how to pick the right spouse (the #1 factor in financial success), how to walk without a smartphone and looking people in the eye. Finally, they'd write a thesis on being productive without checking their email, social media and what other people think about them for 30 minutes, then gradually expand that to three hours, which is the average amount of productive hours an American works in an eight hour days.

Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. That's right--you're probably only productive for around three hours a day.         - Inc. Magazine

One glaring problem is that when children who have traversed through the kind of upbringing that our youngest generations have enjoyed are then confronted in adulthood with a real world that operates contrary to their distorted, solipsistic self-image and belief system, they often lack the proper discernment and critical thinking skills of previous (analog) generations. They're smart enough to know that a tomato is a fruit, but not enough to know it doesn't belong in fruit salad. 

But sure, let's lower the voting age, what could go wrong.

These large children are instead left to construct their own narrative of the world, one which is heavily influenced by actors on their smartphone. This evolving paradigm typically lacks the intellectual underpinnings and experience that might extinguish existing delusions that frequently result in a life largely divorced from reality. Their perception of truth is more influenced by social media and screens than parents who often only interact with them for a couple hours a night at most. 

Many parents I work with or know as friends seem more and more to be serving as unpaid chauffeurs for the myriad sports teams and other extra-curriculars that they foist upon their children year-round.  Our youngest generations are then attracted to and reinforced by online communities like Reddit and 4Chan that condone what can be most closely described as mental illness.

How else can you explain Furries?

When so much untruth is held as fact for so long (i.e. CRT, multiple genders, men can be women and get pregnant, multiple new 21st century sexual identities and preferences, preferred pronouns, replacing history with fiction, and of course politics), an adult is certain to run into some trouble. They're also likely to experience mental health trauma when their narrative collapses immediately upon first contact with the reality of their daily existence. Repeated exposure to this merciless dichotomy inevitably leads to anger, frustration, unhappiness, and sometimes even a desire to tear down the existing structures of society simply to avoid having to reconcile one's own cognitive dissonance. 

Discovering that most of their life up until that point has been a lie at worst, and a success limiter at best, is painful. One can deny reality only so long before being forced to confront and accept the consequences of their family/school indoctrination and the ensuing and very-related failed value system (for instance, high gas prices, empty store shelves, weaponized justice system, rising crime, hyper-inflation, declining marriage and family, record depression, drug use and suicide, etc.)

As the brain attempts to spin a scenario where it can not only retain previous flawed beliefs, but also avoid admitting error and still navigate the world effectively, the mental illness that invariably ensues is liable to consume the host and produce even more unpredictable, counter-productive and sometimes dangerous outcomes. It's a dangerous cycle. Taken to its extreme, this condition can and often does lay the foundation for tragedies like mass shootings, drug overdoses and other forms of self-harm. Like voting for politicians who pander to mental disorders in large urban areas and coastal states.

The reason I emphasize this phenomenon here is not to play Debbie Downer or pick on the young. It's to demonstrate how the symptoms and outcomes of our current youth upbringing protocol could be greatly impacting investing and financial markets as well. You see, we older generations began to observe and identify this retarded (the clinical definition) maturity (i.e. arrested development) in our youngest Americans as early as the 80s and 90s. We all pondered (and feared) what would happen when these young folks entered an adulthood composed of immutable and universal laws that perpetuate and sustain modern life but also threaten to shatter their flawed notions and behaviors. We anticipated that the "real world" would wake them up and correct their course.

What we failed to properly account for years ago was the possibility that the newest generations would seek out- and ultimately succeed in- imposing their delusional narratives on our reality instead of the other way around. Because of their immense size, influence and lack of proper parenting, 20th century youth became 21st century adults who in effect "flipped the script"- as well as reality - on it's head. Because I prefer not to be cancelled- at least this early in a blog post- I will abstain from expounding about the absurd falsehoods we're all now forced to swallow about biology, nature, science, human relations, gender roles and other "social constructs." Suffice to say that the reason many young people feel so disoriented in modern life, gaslighted about what were obvious universal truths up until 15 minutes ago and noticing that so many areas of society (social, political, professional, media, entertainment, sports, etc.) are spinning out of control, is because they are. 

Truth has been hijacked by "the lived truth" (i.e. subjective) of severely damaged people who have lost their bearings on reality and are bound and determined (unconsciously, but sometimes even consciously) to bring the rest of society down along with them on their own personal version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, whether we like it or not. As a result, their views about the world of finance - for instance, what is fair, what assets have value and how much, and how markets should perform for them - are impractical and distorted. In effect, their mommies are no longer there to call the principals, the coaches or the HR departments to protect them. The market simply doesn't care what your mother thinks.

Up until 2022, the fictional perceptions of markets by the 21st century's newest entrants tended to roughly align with the market itself. It was 'all-good.' Like so much of their life to date, there had been no opposition. They bought an investment, it invariably went up, and that was what they were conditioned to believe would always happen. Until it didn't.

Now that markets aren't working out exactly the way they had originally expected, instead of the critical self-evaluation that tends to unlock true enlightenment, 2022's investors just pout and quit. They melt like snowflakes. They jump out of an investment or market when it goes down, and back in when it goes up. That's why you see such dramatic swings, it's called momentum trading. There's no investment analysis, just thoughts and feelings, bereft of evidence, logic and reason.

When enough people quit a specific market, and it exceeds the quantity of people who want in, said market or index drops in value. This will someday be true of universities as higher education lurches toward it's inevitable demise, and we're already seeing it within legacy industries in their death throes, like media and entertainment, that won't exist in their present form for many more years.

The reaper of reality and the laws of the universe are also almost certain to collude to impose themselves next on industries like housing and transportation, both currently being propped up by the Fed while simultaneously being upended by the changing tastes of the new generation (who value mobility, "experiences" and personal autonomy at the expense of accumulating assets).    

To reiterate, this is nothing inherently unique to Americans born after 1980 versus those born before. They're simply overrepresented in this flawed line of thinking. We also know older friends, family and coworkers from earlier generations who still can't see the world for how it really is. They have ridiculous opinions and views on certain aspects of life, but not enough to destroy them. Yet. Usually because their delusions are held up by government policy. Or an increasingly shrinking population of genuine small business owners, laborers, blue collar workers and other producers who are forced to ignore (or suppress) their complicity in allowing for this nonsense to continue. The best example is when people brag about how many people attend their preferred President's inauguration. These people are clueless to recognize why a large crowd is actually an indictment of that President, who's base constituency is largely grifters, government employees and others who get a day off of work (and nobody even notices). 

What you don't see is that many of these folks maintain similar distortive ideas and beliefs in other areas of their life that would be visible if you could ever delve beneath the service, or beyond their superficial (or online) persona. I see it in my practice everyday. More often than I can count, I discover that one's particular mental disorder masquerading as ideology isn't the specific cause of their dysfunction, it's simply a consequence. The evidence is manifest in many other aspects of their life- the size and quality of their social networks, their relationships with the spouse and children, their professional success, their spirituality, their physicality, their happiness and especially their life purpose. Their mental illness is hardly isolated to their political persuasion, that is simply a symptom of a far greater disorder.

Unfortunately, some people never evolve to even the stage of recognition of how much of their life has been premised on a lie. This only opens the door for accelerated mental decay disguised as cognitive decline, specifically political. For so many, politics has replaced and become their religion, with celebrities and "experts" serving as their deities. Their programming has been so comprehensive and effective, and administered so consistently at such an impressionable age, that most are physically and mentally unable to ever revisit and fully reprogram their flawed beliefs. They are incapable of breaking free from the matrix. 

These folks are in some respects spiritual acolytes that instead must continue down the same counter-productive path they've always traveled, yielding them little traction in their life objectives. They would rather coddle a falsehood than honestly evaluate their beliefs and hold them up to scrutiny. As aspects of their 'lived truth' begin to inevitably unravel, many even double-down on their fantasies- continuing to think, act, behave (and vote!) in ways contrary to their best interests, as well as their fellow man and country. 

And that's how you end up with a generation buried in crushing debt they don't think they should have to pay back, in support of socialism and other genocidal systems, facing a financial system and unattainable housing market they believe is rigged (unaware of the concept of a 'starter home'), suffering from unprecedented and debilitating addictions from permissive childhoods and fleeting opportunities to participate in The American Dream, and convinced that their life is special and their tribulations are unique.

That's also how you arrive at explosions of non-binary sexual preferences, preferred pronouns and a spectrum of genders. It's all narcissism at it's core. Mom and Dad said I was special, then they said I must have a learning disability. Then they held me back a year because I was born in the wrong month. Then they said I must have an emotional/chemical imbalance. Then they said I am disadvantaged because of my skin pigment or reproductive organs. And so on and so forth. 

No. Sorry. You're just like everyone else, honey. I'm sorry to break it to you. Your parents were unconsciously addicted to proving your uniqueness because in many ways you represented them. And your mediocre life (to date) casts a painful spotlight on their life. You were their possession, a shiny toy. And your lack of exceptionality and/or success - even at an age where you're not even expected to have any- reflected poorly on them. They were damaged, so now you are, too.

Don't pin accountability for your problems on that ol' mean and evil President so-and-so (pick one), this is on Mom and Dad. It's also how so many of our youth are drawn into- and intoxicated by- instruments of financial destruction like crypto-currency, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), meme stocks, trading (vs. investing) and smartphone trading apps. Which are free for the same reason that pornography is.

These poor, misled Americans are what Goldman Sachs refers to as Muppets, and as you can imagine that's not a compliment. Their insistence that they are special and unique- as are their unprecedented and unfair burdens and their superior intellect- is leading them right over a cliff of their own making. It's the new Adderall. And Wall Street- like Pfizer- has plenty of supply of these magic investments to sell you. Because us in the previous generations - the dark ages- are just too old and dumb to see their value. Not like you, you've done your research (on YouTube) and see the future.

Lead us to financial Candyland, oh brilliant snowflake. Amen.

I expound on this theme even further in a sequel to this post titled, Muppets on Parade.