Several days ago my wife and I went to a surprise birthday celebration for one of our friends. While we were waiting for the guest of honor to show up, we talked with others in attendance, most of whom work at the same place that I do. The topic of conversation moved to saving and investing. I met another guy who had been following a dividend growth strategy for several years. He reported being pleased with his progress so far. I told him I had been doing my own research into dividend-paying stocks as well and had just started investing this year.
Another guest overheard our conversation and expressed his own opinion of the viability of long-term investing. He said he was concerned with the direction the country was going, and expressed fear that dollar-based assets would significantly lose value in the coming years due to inflation and the monetary policy of many first-world nations. He said that lately he had been picking up gold coins at antique dealers and auctions and hiding them in his house. When pressed, he also admitted to owning some Wal-Mart stock that he bought a number of years ago. (Maybe WMT is immune to inflation?)
I found the contrast between the two investment philosophies intriguing. Both of these men work for the same company, doing basically the same job, and yet their investment philosophies could not be more different. This was more than a difference in risk tolerance or asset allocation. This difference centered around their future outlook. One had at worst a neutral view of the future, while the other held a very dim view of the coming years.
I suppose any long-term investor has to have a minimally positive outlook on life in order to be willing to save and invest in stocks (day traders and short sellers excepted). Whether you are investing with an eye on dividends or capital appreciation (or some combination of the two), it does not seem logical to invest cash in intangible assets unless you believe that the future holds some promise of stability and prosperity.