The Most Important Lesson From My First Financial Crisis

"If I died today, nobody would even know."

Thirty yards below me, outside my hotel window, cars were on fire as an angry mob of rioters started hurling whatever they could find at the hotel.

I (Steve Sjuggerud) was alone in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was 1998... during the worst stretch of the Asian financial crisis.

I was there to meet with the head of Indonesia's central bank. I was surprised that a 20-something nobody (me!) could get a meeting with him – the most powerful "money man" in the country.

I asked him what he was going to do to save the financial markets. "Got any ideas?" he replied. He wasn't joking. Times were terrible, and he was desperate.

Indonesia's stock market fell more than 90% in U.S.-dollar terms, peak to trough – as brutal as a stock market wipeout gets.

I flew straight into the heart of the financial crisis. From Indonesia, I made my way to Thailand... Singapore... the Philippines... and Malaysia. It was crazy.

I experienced it all firsthand. And I saw something you need to understand in today's volatile market – the key to knowing when the pain will end...

When the Asian crisis really kicked in – and markets and currencies really started falling – it was all over the financial news. Day after day. You couldn't get away from it.

It started as a small problem with Thailand's currency... Then it spread, engulfing each Asian country one by one. Eventually, Russia collapsed as well – the entire Russian market also fell 90%.

And as the problem got worse, the news coverage grew exponentially.

The financial crisis ended eventually... but only long after it had disappeared from the mainstream-media news cycle.

As I said, I experienced this firsthand. And over the next 20-plus years, I saw the same news cycle again and again.

The financial crisis (wherever it was) didn't end just because it exited the headlines. It continued to inflict pain on investors.

The markets only bottomed once people forgot about them... once people stopped talking about the financial crisis with their friends... once regular folks stopped talking about getting back into stocks (or getting in for the first time).

In short, the bottom only happened once people gave up.

I tell you this today because the financial markets are all over the mainstream news. Everyone is talking about what's happening on Wall Street – more so now than I can ever remember.

Unfortunately, my friend, that alone is a bad sign.

I have experienced a lot of major bear markets firsthand. I have seen many markets fall – dramatically. I have seen the cycle of fear you are experiencing right now in the financial markets... many times.

I could talk to you today about interest rates, economics, or other similar historical events. But to me, this is all you need to know...

The stock market will not bottom when it's all over the mainstream news.

It won't. It can't.

The bottom only arrives long after that... when the stock market falls out of the news completely... when most people have forgotten about Wall Street. Until that happens, stocks can continue to fall.

Now, this sounds grim. But it isn't all bad. The important thing is, past major crises around the globe give us an investing blueprint to follow. So while we can't know exactly how things will play out, we can follow the signs to get a better idea.

Good investing,

Steve Sjuggerud

Editor's note: Wall Street legend – and founder of our corporate affiliate Chaikin Analytics – Marc Chaikin has a new warning that could cause thousands of people to move their U.S. dollars out of cash... out of popular stocks... and into a unique type of investment vehicle.

Marc's revealing all the details tomorrow morning. Click here to learn more.