I am in my upper 70s and retired. I never had a formal education in, or worked in the investment field. However I have been investing in the market for over 40 years. I believe I have made more than my share of mistakes, but over the many years, my gains have exceeded my losses sufficiently that I am now financially secure. As I have aged, I have become more conservative in my investment judgment which has resulted in taking fewer positions and fewer losses. However, my portfolio is totally invested in equities, mutual funds, and ETFs, and I am simply unable (unwilling?) to resist an occasional foray into something speculative. Please do not ask me how I can justify this with my "conservatism". This is an update. It is now New Year's Day, 2013. I am now about 80-85% out of the market, effective as of now. I have for the most part sold my gains and held on to my losses for next year. For a partial explanation, see below. I am not an alarmist and I suspect the American Decline will continue. More recently all one has to do is to listen to, look at, and just generally observe Congress, and the American people who vote its members into office,, reelect them, and do not get rid of the, to see the validation of my beliefs. I further believe the American society/government will become increasing authoritarian, which many Americans might actually welcome as the people and their "leaders" continue their downhill process. It is generally believed (and frequently claimed) that Democracy is the best form of government. I am not sure of that anymore, since democracy, to be successful, makes many demands on the people, and when the people can no longer meet those demands, the decline sets in and accelerates. (With apologies to Harry Truman whom I admire, in my opinion the "buck" does not stop with the President, it ultimately stops with the people. I'm beginning to believe more and more that the "best" form of government is the one most compatible with the people Of what value is Democracy if the people are unable/unwilling to be responsible for and with it. All forms of government have within them the seeds of their own destruction. Cheers!