Given that the economy is now totally and completely dependent on inflating asset bubbles, it makes no sense to invest for the long-term.
Beneath the endlessly hyped expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) of the past two decades, the economy has changed dramatically. The American Dream boils down to social and economic mobility, a.k.a. getting ahead through hard work, merit and wise investments in oneself and one's family.
The opportunities for this mobility in the post World War 2 era broadened as civil rights and equal rights expanded. The 1970s saw a disruption of working-class mobility as high-paying factory jobs disappeared, leaving services jobs that paid less or required more training, i.e. a college degree.
The U.S. economy took off in the 1980s for a number of reasons, including computer technologies, federal stimulus (deficit spending) and financialization (a topic I've covered many times). With millions more college graduates entering the workforce and the Internet creating entire new industries, the opportunities to "get ahead" increased across the social and economic spectrum.
But something changed in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble bursting. The fruits of financialization--highly leveraged debt gambled for short-term gains in markets--were extended to everyone with a job (or a willingness to lie) via liar loans, no-document loans and subprime mortgages.
Just like bigshot financiers on Wall Street, J.Q. Citizen could leverage a couple thousand dollars in cash (or even better, borrow the closing costs via a 105% of value mortgage and put nothing down) and buy a McMansion worth $250,000 or even $500,000.
The only difference between bigshot financiers and J.Q. Citizen was the scale of the leverage and gamble: J.Q. Citizen could leverage a few grand into hundreds of thousands, while the financier could leverage...