Economists say that 4 factors converged to cause the conditions of the financial collapse:

-- low interest rates and easy credit;
-- deregulation since the 1970s and lax regulation under the Bush Administration;
-- bank and mortgage dealers aggressively pushing housing loans to unqualified ("sub-prime") borrowers and reaping huge profits as they packaged bundles of mortgages into securities and sold them to investors around the world; and
-- business management's focus only on short-term bonuses and operating with exceedingly high debt.

In fact, there were two big additional factors in my opinion:

(1) GREED on all level of the spectrum, including ourselves who giddily welcomed "bubbles, " didn't save enough, trusted others to invest for us, and got that dopamine rush of believing predictions that the stock market would continue climbing. What were we thinking?

(2) INFORMATION VOID. I know a lot about the stock market and knew that stocks were poised to decline. As I said to a friend back in September who asked me about the economic future, how crazy do you want to get? I was mocked last November when I predicted that the Dow would fall to 7,500, but the freefall of stock prices happened before we dumb investors knew the extent of the sub-prime mortgage debacle. The sad fact is that nobody was revealing the extent in the problem until it was too late. I don't know of anyone who got a heads up from their banker, pension fund or mutual fund manager before it was all over. And where were the auditors? accountants? once-respected valuation systems (Moody's, Standard and Poor's)? highly-paid analysts at brokerage firms and the media? I believe it was cruelly disingenuous on the part of Fed Chairman Greenspan to talk about a "housing bubble," when what he meant was an "irresponsible and illegal mortgage lending policy to people who had no income or collateral and a further irresponsible and illegal policy of packaging those worthless mortgages and selling them around the world as if they had no risk."

I am not a subversive, but I am all for dusting off the guilllotine and letting some heads roll for the unprecedented mess that cost us Boomers trillions of dollars of wealth. Without a real deterrent, I fear that GREED and DISINFORMATION will never be addressed as the real causes of this economic meltdown.

So where do we go from here? Since I believe that we are still in the dark as to what is really going on, here are some ideas on how we can take charge of what we can control:

1. Don't wait for Washington or the talking heads on TV to help. Get good information. Learn as much as you can about the markets. It's costing us so many ga-zillion dollars anyway, we might as well consider this tuition. Save your money. Budget your resources, pay off or restructure your debt, and reduce your spending. Volunteer to help those more needy than you are. You will certainly feel better about yourself right away.

2. Get involved in professional, trade, community associations and civic groups you may belong to (or used to belong to). Leadership has to emerge from somewhere and, hopefully, you can help to promote good people.

3. Trust the system and the new people placed at the helm of the regulatory bodies. The future depends on our having confidence -- even though we agree that the financial markets look like the biggest "con game" around. So, start investing in the stock market to offset your losses, keep up with future inflation that is certain to come, and have some fun earning some money again.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Marilyn Bruno draws on her background as a stock/commodity brokerage, lawyer, international economist, diplomat and entrepreneur. She offers inside "know-how" on transition, retirement, investment and estate planning, job search, health and wellness, and eldercare. You can access past editions of her monthly newsletter, The Boomer's Guide to Planet Retirement, on the homepage of her website: Contact Dr. Bruno at