The short-term direction of this stock market and economy remains wrapped in a fog. There simply isn't enough data to say if the rally will run another couple of months or melt in the August heat, let alone predict whether the much-anticipated economic recovery will kick in during September, October or next year.
(My own view is that after an August-September drift lower, stocks will move ahead in the last quarter as the rally resumes on hopes for the fourth quarter.)
In contrast, the long-term picture is remarkably clear. The trends that will have the most influence on the financial markets over the next 10 years are already in place. The way they'll work out certainly isn't preordained, but investors can pretty easily identify the forces that will shape the future.
And those trends -- I'll spell out the big five in this column -- say the investing world will be radically different 10 years from now and probably much more challenging. And woe to investors who think all they have to do to position their portfolios for future years is to follow past strategies and tactics.