You could almost hear the collective lip smacking of traditional brokers in recent weeks when the Dow Industrial Average tumbled back down towards 10,000. Traditional brokers have repeatedly claimed that a bull market has made Internet investors look smart these past few years, and that buying and trading online has been easy because there have not been many tough investment decisions to make.

The threat of a bear market calls into question the wisdom of mutual fund companies pumping as much money as they have been into e-commerce. Most of the advances of the Internet have come during one of the greatest bull markets of all time. What if that prosperity was to disappear? Would people still buy and sell their mutual funds online?

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