Our willingness to believe that we can hire some expert to tell us how to outperform markets is a big problem, with big consequences. It underpins Wall Street's brokerage operations, for instance, and leads to a lot more people giving out financial advice than should be giving out financial advice.
Thanks to the current panic many Americans have learned that the experts who advise them what to do with their savings are, at best, fools. Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and all the rest persuaded their most valuable customers to buy auction-rate bonds, telling them the securities were as good as cash.
Those customers will now think twice before they listen to their brokers ever again.