Friday, April 11, 2014

Putting stock margin debt in a longer term historical context

 - by New Deal democrat

I have a new post up at discussing the issue of record margin debt in stocks.  The CHARTS OF DOOM that you've probably seen only go back to about 1990.  What happens when we go back to the 1960s and 1970s, or even the 1920s and compare?

For those of you who are long-term readers and remember us from our Daily Kos days, I wanted to add a note. One thing that makes my blood boil is when a person of modest means and very limited financial knowledge is panicked by a Doomer post, and asks them questions like, "I'm so scared.  What should I do with my 401k?  Should I cash it out?"

Literally I have messages bookmarked where the Doomers were bearish on stock in June 2009.  That's how bad the level of analysis has been.  I recall a top ranked diary from someone called "Stranded Wind" who argued that the FDIC was about to go bankrupt in July 2008 and actually wrote
Run, don’t walk, to your bank and get the funds you have clear of this mess before it gets any worse.
That diary got 610 comments and 345 recommends.  People actually followed his advice.  A full three years later he got banned after it was discovered that he apparently had a much darker side.

Well, the diaries in the last couple of weeks have given rise to some similarly panicked comments.  Anything is possible, but the panic these people spread has some real world consequences among their less informed readers.