Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stein, How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio

Ben Stein has some very charitable friends. Both Warren Buffett and Jim Rogers wrote praiseworthy comments that appear on the back cover of this paperback. (Mind you, he also wrote some nice things about them in the book.) I am not so benevolent.

I don’t normally write about books on personal finance, but I made an exception in this case because I thought it would provide comic relief from my usual fare. After all, the author gave the famous “anyone, anyone” lecture on economics in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Of course, even there, without the priceless shots of student reactions to this deadly teacher the scene would simply have been boring.

And so it is with How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio (Wiley, 2014, with new preface). Stein tries to inject some humor into his discussion of finance, but to my mind the book falls flat.

Most of the advice Stein gives the retail investor is decent. But it’s mainstream advice that’s readily available elsewhere at no cost.

If reverse psychology is a powerful motivator, then perhaps this slim book has merit. Otherwise, it’s just one more attempt to explain the merits of buy-and-hold index investing and to expose the problems inherent in picking individual stocks, investing in hedge funds, emulating endowment funds, timing the market, using margin, and not reinvesting dividends. Yawn.

No comments:

Post a Comment