Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Saving For No Future

Study after study bemoans Americans' disinterest in saving money for their future lives.  Behavioral finance academics are looking for an explanation.  I've already found an explanation consistent with our evolutionary biology.  People don't save because the future is an abstract concept.

Consider how poor people open bank accounts and forget they have money deposited there.  They also think money isn't real unless it sits in their pockets as cash.  The digits in their accounts are an abstraction.  If something physical isn't readily available, it may as well not even exist for most people.  The vast population of stupid Joe Sixpack Americans remains poor because their monkey brains cannot process abstractions.

Americans who do prepare adequately for their futures are small in number.  The smallest number are autodidacts like me.  We can literally see the future because our brains process information much more rapidly and in larger quantities than most humans.  Desire for knowledge feeds this process, so one could say that strength of character is a factor in successful financial preparation.  Another portion of well-prepared Americans may not be so smart or driven.  These people succeed because someone in their bloodline who once possessed those characteristics set them up with inheritances and trust funds.  A well-oiled deus ex machina does the hard work of investing for these idiots.

Digital versions of the deus ex machina are now rapidly proliferating.  Robo-advisors are coming.  Charles Schwab's automated portfolio rebalancing system debuted this month.  The robo-trader is a decent solution for the bulk of Americans who are too dimwitted and unmotivated to grok the importance of financial preparation.  Government mandates to enroll every working proletarian in a robo-balancing 401(k) are probably in our future.  They may have to wait until after a hyperinflationary explosion sweeps away the detritus of the last three decades' malinvestment.

Human beings are largely incapable of imagining their future selves.  The masses of humans wandering about this planet's surface are in dire need of preprogrammed solutions that will lift the heavy burden of abstract thinking from their lumpen shoulders.  Robots are arriving to do physical human labor.  Robo-traders can take care of financial work for people who cannot believe in the future.