People that put money in the stock market are called investors. People that play at the tables in Vegas are called gamblers. With the volatility in the stock market can you really call stocks investments?

Wall Street has become a casino where the odds are stacked in the favor of the "insiders", just as the odds are stacked in favor of the casinos. The average person probably has a better chance of being a winner at the casino than on Wall Street. In a casino, you know the rules and the games are relatively easy to learn. On Wall Street, the rules keep changing and few people really understand the game and many of the exotic investments that have a huge market impact. Even Alan Greenspan admitted that he didn't fully understand some of the derivatives markets.

People buy stocks without realizing how these exotic securities can affect their investments. CDO's and other derivative contracts were largely responsible for the depth of the 2008 market crash and the subsequent recession. The government bought the toxic paper from the banks to shore up the financial system. Now all of this toxic paper, among other things, is causing government balance sheets to come into question...possibly leading to global currency contagion.

Many people that invested money in the stock market over the last 10 years are still under water. I know people that were just getting their money back from 2001 when the 2008 crash happened. At the start of the recent volatility, the same people were hoping to get back their 2008 crash money. Is this investing or gambling? Market professionals continue to tell people to stay in for the long haul, while they are making huge commissions and bonuses on your account as you are losing money.

Yesterday, computers executed trades that caused the market to fall 700 points in 15 minutes. Trades that caused a loss of 60% or more are being reversed as computer errors. What about the people that lost 50%, 40%, 30% etc. At this time, it is not 100% clear exactly what caused the problem.

When it comes to Vegas, I know the rules and the odds. When it comes to Wall Street, even the people who run the markets aren't always sure about what is going on. Should we continue to play their game in their casino or are people just optimists?
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Steve Belli

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