national talk radio personality during the rise and fall of the so-called New Economy (circa 1998-2005). The network created "spots" with minimum wage or unpaid voice-over talent; meanwhile, the entire budget for a 30-second gem was less than the amount of spare change in the program manager's hip pocket. As a Certified Financial Planner as well as a money manager, financial talk radio was something that I did for enjoyment. Naturally, it didn't hurt that my participation encouraged listeners to request my asset management services. After all, few people get paid significant amounts for speaking their mind over the airwaves. Why am I thinking about this while stocks are experiencing their worst rout since the fall of 2011? For one thing, a mortgage company here in California has been raking in the "refi" dough with an extremely irritating tagline, "Thanks Mr. Fed!" All I can think about when I hear the rate-oriented advertisement on the radio are the thousands upon thousands of folks who believe there's a guy out there who is handing out free money. (Oh wait a minute... isn't that Helicopter Ben?) Yet, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seems to be saying that his central bank is gearing up to call it quits. (Thanks Mr. Fed?) Secondly, the ad warns that rock-bottom rates won't be around forever. Underneath the Fed exit strategy of "tapering," however, the economy needs to show continued improvement. I find myself wondering how this is going to come to fruition, especially since we do not have an economy that exhibits "self-sustaining" features. Let's examine the circumstances more closely. Real estate (e.g., home demand, prices, etc.) and market-based securities (i.e., capital appreciation across most asset classes along the risk spectrum) are/were improving... that much is true. "Mr. Fed" has successfully inflated the wealth of households that have been able to take advantage of the quantitative easing policy. Yet, without artificially suppressed interest rates, real estate-related demand will dwindle and profit-takers will cash in on market gains. In fact, they already appear to be cashing in on those gains as I type!