Holistic Survival readers who also indulge in a bit of online stock trading should do so with a healthy bit of suspicion. This time it’s not a Federal Reserve conspiracy or aliens crash-landing in Roswell we’re concerned about. The issue we’re here to warn about is much more pedantic than that. What happens if the Internet crashes while you’re in the midst of an overleveraged trading frenzy?
The very nature of the old-fashioned method of interacting with the stock market created a sort of forced patience that, for better or worse, left investors with a portfolio better suited for long-term thinking. In case you haven’t taken a look lately, things have changed a bit. Thanks to the Internet, instantaneous worldwide news distribution, and push button home trading software, anyone with a few hundred dollars to spare can open an account with one of the ubiquitous online brokers like Scottrade and start trading stocks, mutual funds, or currency like a squirrel on Red Bull. Heck, you can buy or sell hundreds of times a day if your trigger finger is fast enough.
As Jason Hartman notes, the Internet has changed the nature of the stock market considerably. This is all fine except sometimes the Internet crashes. Other times it is manipulated by government officials who decide an information blackout is preferable to allowing the people to know what’s really going on in the halls of power (Hello China and Egypt. Syria, we’re watching you).
The bottom line is that for all the whiz bang devices we carry around to stay connected – Wi-Fi, smartphones, anything from Apple – it all relies on a physical infrastructure that is oh-so-precariously perched on the precipice of disaster. Build in as much redundancy as you want but a simple car crash in rural Iowa can still take Internet service away from 14,000 people for several hours. Maybe days.
How much damage could be done to an over-leveraged day trading portfolio while crews are scratching their heads and piecing fiber-optic cables back together? It could be disastrous to your finances. This is why day trading on the back of the Internet feels a little like gambling to us. You might as well take it to Vegas and let it all ride on #23. You might lose everything but at least you get to eat at the free lobster buffett.
Ultimately this is why we still recommend real estate for those more interested in building long-term wealth and less interested in dying poor with an ulcer-ridden collection of internal organs. (Top image: Flickr | Lars Plougmann)
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The Holistic Survival Team