Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry Hardcover – Dec 27 2012
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“It's rare to come across a realistic and readable book about personal finance. Most are laden with rosy promises, followed by acronyms and turgid advice. Helaine Olen, a freelance journalist, offers an exception with Pound Foolish.... It’s a take-no-prisoners examination of the ways she says we have been scared, misled or bamboozled by those purporting to help us achieve financial security.”
—The New York Times
“Have you ever met anyone who has grown rich just by saving? Probably not. But you may well have met someone who has grown rich looking after other people’s savings. That dark secret lies at the heart of ‘Pound Foolish’, Helaine Olen’s excellent book, a contemptuous exposé of the American personal-finance industry.”
“A cautionary tale that you need to read.”
—The Washington Post
“Dishy dirt on the ‘financialization’ of American life and the hordes of carrion-pickers who swarm us in the hope of lifting still more dollars from our pockets.”
“This thought-provoking book alerts us to important issues in today’s post-recession economy.”
“A highly readable antidote to the snake oil of the personal finance industry. Suze Orman, watch out!”
—GREG CRITSER, author of Fat Land
“Wow, does personal financial advice need debunking. And Helaine Olen does it like an old master. Clear, witty, takes no prisoners, and right as hell. Olen will wake you up. There is no financial trick to make you rich.”
—JEFF MADRICK, author of The Age of Greed and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute
“Helaine Olen explains in simple language why most Americans are never going to understand the myriad complexities of investing and borrowing, leaving us all vulnerable to being ripped off in oh so many ways. Combining thorough research with passionate writing, Pound Foolish tells us what to do to protect ourselves and our hard-earned money.”
—DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Fine Print
“As Helaine Olen shows in this powerful exposé, ‘personal finance’ is the ultimate oxymoron. The financial challenges that most Americans face are not simply personal—they reflect the failure of our polices and our leaders to tackle growing middle-class insecurity. And the advice that self-proclaimed money experts provide is far from sound finance. Too often, it’s snake oil that only adds to the problem.”
—JACOB S. HACKER, director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, and author of The Great Risk Shift
“Pound Foolish is a fabulously well-reported, lucid, and witty tour of the train wreck that American finance has become. Olen has the rare ability to demystify the countless swindles and frauds that lately comprise the basic operations of the investment scene. As a kind of bonus, she depicts with verve and intelligence the panoramic freak show of personalities who infest the money scene.”
—JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER, author of The Geography of Nowhere and Too Much Magic
“In this gripping account, Helaine Olen pulls out the rug from under the finance industry, and does so in time for at least some of us to find alternative solutions to financial security.”
—DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, author of Life Inc. and Present Shock
“The world of personal finance is an economic sideshow filled with illusionists, conjurers, and snake-oil salesmen of every stripe. Thankfully, Helaine Olen has spent enough time inside the circus to be able to guide us wisely and wittily through the hall of mirrors—and come out smarter on the other end.”
—JAMES LEDBETTER, opinion editor, Reuters, and author of Unwarranted Influence
“The cult of ‘personal finance’ sells itself—and preys on pocketbooks—with a wildly false message: that American middle class families only have themselves to blame for their economic troubles. With wit, simple math, and relentless sleuthing, Helaine Olen shows how the personal finance industry has led savers and investors astray, and what you can do to avoid its traps.”
—ALYSSA KATZ, author of Our Lot
About the Author
HELAINE OLEN is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and elsewhere. She wrote and edited the popular Money Makeover series in the Los Angeles Times. She lives in New York City with her family. Follow her on Twitter at @helaineolen.
Top Customer Reviews
It demonstrates,using many examples, that most of the advice from professional financial advisors is designed to lock the client into a variety of funds that provide the advisors and their companies with the highest possible ongoing income and eats up most of the profit that the client should be earning from his or her investments.
The book demonstrates particularly well how poorly women are treated. They are held in low esteem by the financial professionals and their ability to manage their own money is scorned, though this position is entirely unsupported by any hard data.
It is fun to read and will be appreciated by investors who manage their own funds; though I suspect it will confirm what they already believe .
The simple premise of this little treatise is to tear everything you know about finance limb from limb. All the rot designed to help you with money from self-help to Dave Ramsey to the latest stock market guru is nothing but a fraud designed to get you to pay for something. Anybody who claims to know something you don't is just selling something.
The author has a point and she very skillfully illuminates it for us. She methodically goes from one financial fad to the next and very neatly deconstructs them. She's even polite enough to tear everything down and at the end NOT really present us with an answer. There are some liberal leanings in which she suggests that government regulation is the real answer to our problems but even that, she admits, isn't a panacea.
To summarize, since I have little else to say, Pound Foolish happily tells us all what we long ago suspected about the financial services industry. Nobody really knows the answer to how to get rich excepting through an inordinate amount of faith in straight up luck or perhaps getting your own talk show to sell your wares. The book is at times rather ponderous and redundant but ultimately informative with its most important take-away being the attitude of realism which accompanies it rather than any specific detail the author provides.
Most recent customer reviews
"[This book] will tell the story of how we were sold on a dream--a dream that personal finance had almost magical abilities, that it could compensate for stagnate... Read more