Monday, February 11, 2013

Investors beware: If it's too good to be true ...

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 6:45 AM

The New York Times has a good cautionary story today. It's about how people looking at low interest rates of conventional investments have been drawn to risky propositions to improve their retirement outlook. Dangerous business.

An Arkansas regulatory is quoted. Unsophisticated investors (and that's most of us) are being preyed on here, too.

...The victims are among the millions of Americans whose mutual funds and stock portfolios plummeted in the wake of the financial crisis, and who started searching for ways to make better returns than those being offered by bank deposits and government bonds with minuscule interest rates.

Tens of thousands of them put money into speculative bets promoted by aggressive financial advisers. The investments include private loans to young companies like television production firms and shares in bundles of commercial real estate properties.

Those alternative investments have now had time to go sour in big numbers, state and federal securities regulators say, and are making up a majority of complaints and prosecutions.

...There are few good statistics on the extent of the problem nationally. But cases are mounting in the offices of regulators like A. Heath Abshure, the securities commissioner in Arkansas, where a majority of the 66 open securities cases involve complex investments sold to less sophisticated investors looking for a steady return.

This story, again, is an illustration of the folly of the beloved Ignorance Caucus notion that we should wreck Social Security and Medicaid and replace defined benefits with vouchers that give money over to Americans to invest for themselves and insure themselves as they choose.

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