Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/22/2015 --Last Friday was the fourteenth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil. Thousands of lives were lost as we looked on in horror, glued to our televisions. Each of those lives was an infinite loss to family and friends. For a few weeks after 9/11/2001, the country, the world united in both mourning the loss and celebrating the "city upon a hill" that is the United States of America.
Within a month and a half, though, we had achieved for ourselves much of what Osama bin Laden dreamed to accomplish. No terrorist attack could have done as much damage to the liberties that make America precious and unique as the USA PATRIOT Act, signed into law on October 26th, 2001. We are poorer economically and poorer in freedom and dignity today than we were that morning in September. It is not merely facetious or provocative to ask if al-Qaeda came out ahead in the exchange.
Fear and uncertainty prompted us to sign away our freedoms for the empty promise of safety. Our government, emboldened, has continued to savage the Constitution and the Bill of Rights since then, and not just in the interests of national security. Increasing, near tyrannical, regulatory regimes make it ever more difficult to start or run a business in any industry, including financial services. Ever greater interference into our personal lives chisels away at our freedom of choice in everything from food to personal beliefs. And, especially since the Crisis of 2008 and 2009, the Federal Reserve and the federal government have taken away the basic expectation that a free market actually operates freely.
All of these government overreaches are based on empty promises. "We can keep you absolutely safe, if you just let us invade your lives and ignore your basic rights." "We can hold this industry or that to the highest moral, ethical and quality standards, if you just let us tell you exactly how to do business and force you to spend dollar after dollar and hour after hour on compliance." "We can make you healthier, happier, and quite possibly more attractive, if you just let us take away your freedom to make choices about how you live your lives." And this one, not bigger or more odious than the others, but a concern nonetheless: "We can make the market go up forever and ever, if you just let us make price discovery impossible, ignore the economic fundamentals, and, oh yeah, make your life savings worthless by devaluing the money you do have."
And yet, so many have bought into all of these empty promises, and the markets still act as if the Federal Reserve's money-printing is anything other than hot air filling a debt-driven bubble. Last week, CNBC crowed that "the sharp bounce in global stocks suggests the worst is over." Really? Look at what's really happening. Valuations are completely out of whack. When correlated with actual ten-year S&P 500 total returns, the market has advanced to extreme, almost obscene, overvaluations, largely without consequences for those who have taken on the risks. With corporate profits falling, margin debt is soaring. The Fed seems to be preparing to raise interest rates, although we can believe that when we see it. Currency wars are breaking out across the world. Greece and other insolvent European countries are on the verge of collapse, and oil-dependent countries in the Middle East are going deeply into the red, which I've never seen in my lifetime.
Even as CNBC was playing up the party line, former New York Stock Exchange head Richard Grasso was talking to the Wall Street Journal and the television show Wall Street Week about, among other things, the recent cycle of flash/crash days we've been seeing. He asserted that the markets have valued speed over fairness, saying, "A fast market is not necessarily a fair market." He also criticized practices that advantage institutional and large-scale investors over retail investors as "bad for the country, bad for the markets and bad for your business."
Flash/crash markets are happening when arrogant young traders, fear, and computer algorithms combine into a perfect storm of mindless selling. All at once these pompous risk-takers become frightened risk-averse hamsters. Our markets are topsy-turvy from what they were before 9/11, and the recent bounce in the Dow is nothing other than a sucker's rally.
I want America to get its freedoms back, not just for us but also for the good of the world. Becoming America again is a choice and we must all instinctively say, "Hell no!" each time anyone would take it upon themselves to take even one of our own liberties away for any reason. If we choose, we have the power to make the last 14 years of fear, violated freedoms, large government agencies running out of control, invasions of privacy, and bailouts for "too big to fail" institutions the exception to the rule of American history, rather than the new normal. Reject the empty promises, think for yourselves, make a plan and follow it. That is truly the American way.
All data sourced through Bloomberg
Securities offered through Western International Securities, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. Bennett Group Financial & Western International Securities, Inc. are separate and unaffiliated companies.
About Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting.com
She discusses educational topics and events in the financial news, along with her thoughts on the economy, financial markets, investments, and more with her live guests, who have included rock legend Ted Nugent, as well as Steve Forbes and Grover Norquist. Listeners can call 855-884-DAWN a as well as take podcasts on the road and forums for interaction.
She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett.