When looking at the ghouls and goblins of Wall Street, it's no wonder people have fears about investing. Especially when looking at the frightening episodes this past year, people have good reason to be afraid to take on risk. So, this Halloween season we go from zombie banks to haunted houses, and look at the biggest reasons that are preventing people from investing.
- Wall Street Ghouls
When Bernie Madoff's scheme was exposed, people saw blood. Defrauding charities is ghoulish, even by Wall St. standards. While the odds on anyone in your life wreaking havoc like that, it's only natural to shy away from investments when blood is in the streets.
- Investment Goblins
These small mischievous creatures don't go so far as to become ghoulish, but they are troubling to investors none the less. These are the people that suggest no money down, adjustable payment home loans, credit cards that start with very low interest rates but never stay there, and grin from ear to ear when they land your rollover IRA. You can't invest when there is no trust and little reason has been given to trust the investment industry.
- Zombie Banks
Have the toxic assets been removed from the bank's balance sheets yet? While bank stock prices have risen, there isn't much talk about the toxic assets having been sold off. Until those are gone, and bank balance sheets sparkle, some concern will linger.
- Derivative Trick or Treating
You just have to wonder what the people that thought up the credit default swap scheme are thinking up now. They played a trick on everyone, took the treats for themselves, and does anyone think they don't want more candy? As fears of the unknown go, this is a doozy.
- Haunted Houses
When investors think about the losses in the home value, it feels like it's haunted. And if you have a haunted house, then it's likely you either aren't financially able to invest or you are too worried about your home to take risk elsewhere.
- Horror Stories
The media loves a good horror story. It may increase circulation, but it puts fear into the minds of investors. Sometimes this is real fear and sometimes it's blown out of proportion, slow news day, jump on the bandwagon, fear.
- Dollar-Sucking Vampires
Because there is a sunset provision in the tax code, and the current wind is blowing toward letting them expire, it's likely that many investors will see higher taxes in the near future. And that's not all. Spending has increased and deficits go as far as the eye can see. This usually means more money going to Uncle Sam in the future. I guess that's why they call them blood suckers.
- Skeletons in Our Closets
Many of us have a skeleton in our closet that we fear. It's called debt. Personal debt for many people is out of control and that scares the daylights out of them. They don't know what to do about it. They can't deal with it easily, but their gut tells them that now is not the time to take on more risk and start investing.
- Black Monday Cats
In the month of October, many investors look at past history and see black cats crossing the markets path. That must be the reason Black Monday in 1929 and Black Monday in 1987 both happened in October. Even if it isn't the reason, many investors still associate the October with bad things and that keeps some of them from investing. (For more, read our Market Crashes Tutorial.)
- Mummy Companies
Does anyone remember how many companies have died, but been wrapped in a government blanket of money and been brought back to life? These undead companies may rise from the grave, but what they will do from there is unknown. Their mere existence adds fear for investors.
- Frankenstein's Monsters
This is also known as Social Security and Medicare, and while this may not scare people right now, it should. We brought these programs to life, but now we can't pay what was promised and they are going to turn against us. They will bankrupt the country unless something changes. So while most of the fears in this list will fade over time, this is the one monster that will come to life and terrorize us all.
While this is a pretty full list, there are other things that could send chills down your spine. Consider the trade and budget deficits, the national debt, the environment, the energy crisis, the falling dollar, potential inflation, rising unemployment, two wars and nuclear weapons potentially in the hands of radicals. If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will. (For more, check out The Ghouls And Monsters On Wall Street and Haunting Wall Street: The Halloween Terminology Of Investing.)