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A Fool and His Money: The Odyssey of an Average Investor [Paperback]

John Rothchild
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 1998 Wiley Investment Classics (Book 19)
"There is one thing that can be said about A Fool and His Money that cannot be said about any other colume of investment advice: You will never make a penny from the information in this book. No work on the subject of personal finance has even tried to make this claim before. That is because works on the subject of personal finance are all lying. John Rothchild is the only fully honest author in the genre."--from the Foreword by P. J. O'Rourke.

A veritable gold mine of comic insight into the predicament of an average investor's avid pursuit of wealth, A Fool and His Money is John Rothchild's critically acclaimed personal account of a year devoted to investing his money in the markets. The entire investment world--its characters, institutions, customs, and myths-passes under Rothchild's sharp and profoundly humorous scrutiny.

Acclaim for A Fool and His Money

"What makes this book so good is that Rothchild can explain things like naked puts . . . and leave the reader both edified and laughing. . . . Witty, fast-paced, and educational."--The Washington Post.

"You'll relish John Rothchild's comic tale. . . . The book nears guaranteed delight."--Newsday.

"A Fool and His Money may be the funniest book about investing ever written. It's a reader's capital gain."--New York Post.

You set aside some money, quit your job, devote yourself entirely to studying the markets, and start to invest. Then, through hard work and your own magical intuition, you become so wealthy your major concern is finding a fashionable hobby to soak up your abundant leisure time. All in about a year.

Now, thanks to this hugely entertaining and informative book, you can live out the fantasy without risking your money, your job--or your sanity.

Since its acclaimed debut a decade ago, A Fool and His Money has become a treasured investment classic. It's the comic, firsthand account of a first-time investor who sets out to make his wildest money dreams come true.

In a surge of optimism and enterprise, financial writer John Rothchild drops everything to devote an entire year to learning how to invest a modest sum of money. Motivated by a sincere desire to get rich, he undertakes his mission by systematically studying as much as he can about the markets and how they really operate. He fearlessly asks the most basic questions, observes the professionals at work, studies the newsletters, makes investments, and reports back on everything--including his own highly personal and often hilarious reactions.

With Rothchild as your guide through the marketplace, you will:
* Eavesdrop as his broker explains in fluent double-talk why he should buy a certain "hot stock"
* Share in his buyer's remorse as Rothchild purchases an unknown technology company stock that puts him on an emotional roller coaster
* Be humbled as he enters the almighty Federal Reserve Bank and struggles to understand its omnipotent power over his personal finances
* Witness the excitement and confusion of the Commodities Exchange and find out what pork bellies really are
* Hear firsthand the enigmatic and undoubtedly wise words of various wizards of Wall Street
* Sympathize with Rothchild as he explains his transactions to his loved ones
* Blush as he shamelessly attempts to deceive them.


In a gesture of pure magnanimity, Rothchild also includes the hard-won bits of wisdom he calls his "25 Useful Tips"--which include such sage advice as "Never buy anything from a broker at an airport"--and his handy "Fool's Glossary," which clarifies many of the technical terms used in the book.

Clever, funny, and informative, A Fool and His Money will reward investors at all levels of experience with a revelation on every page.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"If you think it's right it's wrong, and vice versa," quips freelance writer Rothchild in this picaresque odyssey of his search for a surefire way to multiply money. With a $14,000 grubstake, he invested in stocks and made the rounds: visiting brokerage houses, interviewing financial advisers, studying market newsletters, appraising mutual funds, penetrating the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve purlieus and Chicago's commodity trading pits (where putting one's money is "like holding up bread for the seagulls"). His education complete, Rothchild found that most of his capital evaporated even before the October '87 Crash, which completed the job. The average investor, the author concludes in this rueful, ironic and doggedly humorous tale, is "a born loser." Nevertheless, readers will be vastly entertained while learning investment essentials and idiosyncrasies they never knew they ought to know about.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is an exemplar on how not to invest, but it is not helpful on how to invest intelligently. The author describes his unsuccessful journey investing in stocks, futures, etc.; his use of investment newsletters and attendance at seminars; and his investigation of investment markets. Other than painting a grim picture on how easy it was for him to lose money, the book has little substance. While well written and at times entertaining, it would have been much more valuable if the author had analyzed his judgments and errors and discussed investment alternatives. Instead, the book is darted with "tips" that are more humorous than useful. Arthur J. Lieb, Library of Congress
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I WAS TOLD THAT BEFORE YOU CAN ENRICH YOURSELF, YOU HAVE to want to get richer. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Buyers Remorse, the average investor's story June 28 2004
Format:Paperback
"A fool and his money" is the story of buyers remorse of one very lucky investor, who walked away with 50 percent of his money. Zero game means one person is a winner and another person is a loser. John got a bad taste, as he discovered the hazards of his margin being called and being forced too come up with 8600 dollars, too cover his investments and learned once again the average investor can not afford too invest. Bottom line, the lucky disappear into anomity, no one knows there name only their story; the losers feed the winners; and the winners are always looking for new losers.
John made a few mistakes, acted on weak advice, and held on too long after realizing his mistake. John gave some very insightful information about mutal fund managers. At the time of the book 9200 fund managers were controlling 75 percent of the wealth. John says, mutal fund managers don't outperform the averages because they collaborate between each other on selection. Outperformance is shunned because it distinquishes one mutal fund manager above another and makes the other look bad; and his claim for why mutal fund managers don't beat the average.
The Federal Reserve buy Bonds and use bonds too control the money supply. The Bonds represent assets which banks can loan money against increasing the available money supply to the consumer. If inflation increases, the Fed sells Bonds decreasing the money supply and increasing the interest rate. So, the Fed regulates inflations by controlling the amount of money supply.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A reality check for the average investor July 27 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book was first published in 1988, after the 1987 crash. The wisdom and essence of the book is still as valuable now in 2002. It is entertaining as well as educational. The author went out of his way to describe his experience or experiments in various areas of investing, giving knowledge and first hand information on how the investment world runs from different perspectives. The author took a year to study investing and invest with his real money, with the assignment of writing this book about it at the end. As a result, his investment decisions and variety and frequency of his investment may be atypical of an average investor. However, his description of the phychology of an average investor is quite accurate.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Quite disappointed Oct. 25 2001
Format:Paperback
Normally I would check the Amazon rating before I read a book. The average rating of this was 4.5 and so I picked it. I dont know whether I am not an average investor or what, I dont take it interesting nor helpful nor amusing nor.... Mr. Rothchild did try to write something good for his target readers with a different style and angle, something I can appreciate. However, something important, say lessons/points noteworthy for his readers, are absent. You read it but you can forget the content real fast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Information Overload Is Costly! Feb. 22 2001
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Mr. Rothschild did something in this book that you should never do. He took a year off to learn how to invest, and looked into every financial category available. As a result, he was soon inundated with advice that he often followed. Usually, he didn't understand the risks of what he was doing, and he almost always ended up making costly and unnecessary mistakes. You will find this book a funny cautionary tale about the relevance of keeping it simple and focusing on what's important.
The book is filled with short bits of advice that give you a flavor for its content.
"Never buy the June call nor sell the October put simultaneously, unless you know what they are." This is a reference to a strategy for making money in very volatile stocks. The stock he used was not volatile enough, and he lost on the position.
"'Expert' advice does not agree." So who can you believe?
Mr. Rothchild's downfall was that he is an obviously intelligent, curious person who was too good at finding sources of information. Along the way, he met more different investment brokers, security analysts, professional portfolio managers, market makers, commodity traders, and options experts than you can shake a stick at. Although no one held his hand into a fire, he often tried out an idea that he heard about along the way. The salespeople were all trained to let the investor do whatever he wanted, so he was able to get himself into deep water in the process of trying these things. Someone should have pointed out that he could have learned the same lessons by simply taking a theoretical position on paper, and tracking the results.
One hilarious sequence has him changing hotels during a vacation to avoid the margin calls that came every few hours.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite finance books Jan. 20 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have read a quite a bit of books on finance (and work in finance). This book is one of my favorites...I could not put the book down. The book is realistic and entertaining. Definitely worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read Dec 27 2000
By HJ
Format:Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whilst Rothchild is not giving out specific advice on the stock market, he does provide a good general overview by relating his one year's journey into the stock market. A clear message from this book was that the "experts" are incorrect more often than not and that there is more rumour than fact floating around.
Written with a lot of honesty, great humour, and most definitely worth reading.
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