Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry

Helaine Olen, Author
Helaine Olen. Penguin/Portfolio, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59184-489-1
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-57530-7
Paperback - 298 pages - 978-1-59184-679-6
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The worth of the personal finance industry is inversely proportional to its ubiquity, according to Forbes.com blogger Olen in his breezy romp through recent financial history. According to Olen, given today’s increasing income inequality and shaky employment prospects, a secure livelihood or retirement is a chimera. Olen’s fast-paced narrative focuses on the rise of media celebrities and financial pundits who assure us: “You can do it!” What we can do is sign up for overhyped and overpriced investment seminars and services, promoted largely by the powerful motivator of fear. Such luminaries as Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, Robert Kiyosaki, and Peter Schiff may be household names, but their (often self-serving) advice did not prevent American retirement vehicles from losing $2 trillion in 2007–2008. The proposition that media icons are also self-promoters will astonish no one, and Olen’s frequent iteration of this point diminishes the value of her observations. Though her intention is to provide an exposé, not financial advice, her own observations are commonplace. One can enjoy her glimpses of the world of financial celebrity while remaining skeptical about the scope of her proposed remedy. Agent: Andrew Stuart, the Stuart Agency. (Jan.)
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