Apocalypse Someday!

By The Advocates

If ambulance-chasers are the bottom feeders of the law industry, then big doom forecasters are their counterparts in ours. If you have good education and experience with markets and investments, you might spot them easily and avoid them. If not, they can be convincing enough to spur investors to action.

The common bond between these two is their tendency to exploit vulnerable people for money, capitalizing on our need to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  People naturally and necessarily assess their environments for threats, and that makes us easy targets for fear-based marketers. That’s exactly what these forecasts are, marketing. And if they’re marketing, they must be selling something.

Jay Mooreland’s recent blog concurs, citing newsletter subscription fees as a potential motivator for these firms, noting that “if they were prescient or had a highly predictive model/algorithm, they wouldn’t sell it. They would use it themselves and make a ton of money”.

Instead, they make incendiary ads that predict a financial doomsday, like those noted in Jay’s blog. These are so bold as to provide “deadlines” for selling stocks to avert catastrophe. They simply move the goal post when the predictions fail, eventually availing themselves of an evergreen headline. Efficient, I guess.

I’ve lived through a handful of literal predictions of the Apocalypse. Think about Y2K. It’s laughable now, but a lot of people were really scared at the time, and they acted accordingly. Millennials and older may enjoy the nostalgia generated by this TIME magazine article that shows how hard we prepped for the anti-climax of our lifetimes.

By 2012 we should have known better. The end of the Mayan calendar yielded a prophecy with cinematic gravitas. Many prepped for a variety of doomsday scenarios, and makers of survival gear made a pretty penny. These contemporaneous photos showcase them well. Since you’re reading this, you know how that played out.

Here’s what we want you to know about these doomsayers.

First, these failed predictions only strengthen our belief that predications are pretty pointless. No one knows what will happen and the best tool to manage your finances is objective data. Remember the controllable classics: substantial savings, diversification, and monitoring/rebalancing. Don’t go chasing market rumors.

Second, some things are wildly out of your control. You’re better off admitting it than wasting one precious minute of your life worrying over what you cannot control or even influence.

Last, don’t take advice from them. Seek advice from people who have your best interest in mind. That’s only possible if they know you and your circumstances, so avoid blanket guidance.

Let’s end by quoting my favorite movie, The Princess Bride. “Life is pain, Princess! Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” Ah, Westley. So right and so wrong. In only a few scenes you’d rekindle your love, making all the pain worthwhile.