This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Nov. 3 at 8:43 a.m. EST.As investors, we now face a dystopian future. Our future has been purchased from the past. My vision of the future does not preclude a stable/better stock market over the next several months but it does make the argument that disappointing or substandard investment returns seem the most likely outcome over the next three to five years in an economy that has suffered a massive coronary and that lacks future clarity. I expressed concerns regarding an imminent depression in housing three years ago, and then, two years ago, I began to cite the alarming use of credit that could have dire consequences. When the excrement starting hitting the fan, I wrote that the outlook for the highly levered consumer (and for the economy as a whole) sat squarely on the shoulders of stock prices, which is the other significant household asset that, up to mid-2007, had held price. I opined that a dependency on steady or improving equities was a slippery slope because so much can and usually does go wrong in the stock market. Unfortunately, my housing, credit and stock market concerns were realized in the extreme. Our hand has now been dealt, and it's a weak hand, with reduced promises and possibly even worse investment returns. As we approach the next decade, our social, economic and political future has materially changed, owing to the deep and muddy financial ditch in which we are now squarely stuck. Moreover, the scope and duration of the financial meltdown has placed our economy well past the tipping point, and it will have an enduring and negative effect. Consider that U.S. home prices have dropped by over $5 trillion in the last one and a half years and that, during the month of October alone, nearly $10 trillion has been lost in the global equity markets. Quite frankly, that ditch is so deep right now that we are in big trouble if our policymakers get it wrong over the next 12 months. My concern is that we might even be in trouble for a long period of time if they get it right.