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Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity (Community Resilience Guides) Paperback – February 20, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly-
Economist and entrepreneur Shuman (The Small-Mart Revolution) provides a convincing argument that the general public should be allowed to invest in small businesses. Today, millions of Americans are reluctant to trust a rickety Wall Street with their retirement assets or savings for their kids' education, and instead, they're interested in investing locally, especially since small businesses are more profitable than larger corporations. However, less than one percent of Americans's long-term savings touches local small business, which means that Americans are systematically overinvesting in Wall Street and under-investing in Main Street. Shuman offers the average investor attractive alternatives that comply with securities laws, but allow for investing in neighborhood cooperatives, and more. In addition, he explores the challenges of securing institutional lending, and shares valuable insights about how local businesses have deployed creative investment strategies to avoid or reduce the costs of security law compliance, how local investors can pool together to diversify their risks, and how individuals can earn superior returns from investing in their own bank, home, and energy efficiency. Shuman's accessible book will help investors of all backgrounds take action.

Kirkus Reviews-
In an installment of the environmentally responsible publisher's Community Resilience Guide series, an astute economist weighs in on a hot-button issue: how to keep local dollars invested in local businesses. Shuman (The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition, 2007, etc.) offers real-time suggestions for investing hard-earned American money back into community-based businesses. In the introduction, musician and philanthropist Peter Buffett restates the importance of a return to the "fundamental aspects of human nature" to reverse what he believes to be the nation's crippled socioeconomic structure. Shuman expands on Buffett's beliefs by citing America's broken investment system whereby money spent at local merchants becomes reinvested into large Wall Street corporations. He cites several "local-investment tools" as the building blocks in a plan to reallocate and redistribute capital back into communities that need it more than the "bandits of Wall Street." After an outline of weak retirement investment returns, a stagnant economy and the bleak outlook for future retirees, the author advances highly practical arguments in favor of supporting locally grown foodstuffs, community banking, autonomous cooperative organizations and the adoption of a sustainable mindset. Shuman sensibly lays out the groundwork for a revamped economic platform with profiles of many viable, "green" companies and nonprofit alliances alongside intensively researched facts about banks, securities and recession-proof purchasing strategies. As his thesis deepens, however, the material becomes more applicable for more seasoned, jargon-friendly economists. Still, those emerging with a modicum of head-scratching will find Shuman's galvanized eco-speak an intelligent voice in assigning a conscience to the process of how and where hard-earned dollars are spent. An impassioned, forward-thinking plea for economic reform at the grassroots level.

"Michael Shuman has done it again. In Local Dollars, Local Sense, he answers the central question of the era: How does capital get invested? Whether you are concerned with job creation, environmental destruction, immigration, public health or education, this book will not only tell you why things are going wrong, it will tell you how we can make things right."--Kevin Danaher, cofounder, Global Exchange and Green Festivals

"Brilliant and perfectly timed, Local Dollars, Local Sense enables us to transform worry and confusion about our personal finances, and the nation's, into rewarding action. Shuman shows us-in part with compelling stories-how investment choices are really exciting sources of power to achieve peace of mind for our families as we create thriving, democratic communities. I love this ground-breaking, liberating book!"--Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

"In an important and path-breaking work, Michael Shuman shows clearly and persuasively how to transform our nation's financial system from a destructive engine for increasing economic inequality into a positive force for creating human well-being and community resilience. The cry today is for new laws and regulations to instill greater accountability and integrity in existing national and global financial markets. Shuman calls, instead, for legislative reforms that shift savings away from those growth-oriented and life-destroying markets to new local financial markets that serve life-enhancing, place-based community enterprise. Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity must be required reading for every elected official in the country as well as all "experts" in finance and business from the academic and corporate worlds."--H. Thomas Johnson, professor of sustainability management, Portland State University, and author of Profit Beyond Measure

"How can we secure our personal finances while simultaneously helping to rebuild our communities? Read this book and find out. Michael Shuman's advice urgently needs to be heeded. Authoritative yet highly readable, Local Dollars, Local Sense illuminates the path toward a very different economy, providing practical advice that is more intensely relevant with every passing day."--Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder, International Society for Ecology and Culture; producer, The Economics of Happiness

"Local small businesses employ more people and respond to community needs better than big corporations do-but nearly all our investment dollars support Wall Street banks and huge companies. The path to local investing has been strewn with obstacles. Michael Shuman clears a path for us all, showing how local investing can help solve some of America's biggest social, economic, environmental, and political problems. This is a book many of us have been waiting for."--Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth and Peak Everything

"Where to invest your money in these uncertain times? Bring it home, advises Michael Shuman. But don't put it under the mattress! This smart and thoughtful book explains the many ways we can invest in our local economies to not only receive a more reliable return than the stock market casino can provide, but also to live in more self-reliant and joyful communities. Join the shift toward true prosperity. This book shows you how."--Judy Wicks, cofounder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

"Changing the direction our money flows in away from the tax havens and the banks and toward the urgent rebuilding of community resilience at the local scale is one of our most pressing and urgent tasks. Michael Shuman inspires and equips us for this work with great vision and purpose."--Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Companion and cofounder of the Transition Network

"Prepare to rethink everything you've learned about investing! In this tour de force, Michael Shuman provides an eye-opening look at how local companies can trump market returns, and how legalized crowdfunding might do more for job creation than the failed policies of throwing taxpayer money at big corporations. The book abounds with examples of community investment that are helping to rebuild local economies, and provides a tantalizing glimpse of life beyond corporate capitalism."--Amy Cortese, author, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It

"Want something that makes sense amid the increasingly crazy world of global finance? Going local is it and Michael Shuman has been at the forefront of this cutting-edge thinking for more than a decade. He not only maps the emerging process of economic localization, but also gets down to the nitty gritty: the investment strategies and the financial practitioners who are making it real."--Woody Tasch, chairman, Slow Money; chairman emeritus, Investor's Circle; and author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money

"There is no task more urgent facing this country than rebuilding local economies, and Michael Shuman knows this inside and out. This book should be required reading for Americans."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and other books

"This long-awaited book is a masterpiece and a field guide to a much-needed journey into creating the kind of economy our children will be happy to inherit. Future generations will praise Local Dollars, Local Sense as one of those seminal works that helped transform human societies."--John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman and Hoodwinked

"Local is the new green, because local encompasses the wholeness of real places - nature and people and the complex web of relationships among them. Living on an island, I have a special appreciation for local resilience. I know my community is my real security. My bank. The financial system makes it easy to invest in distant corporations and difficult to invest in our own neighbor's start-ups and business expansion. Enter Michael Shuman and this wonderful book, Local Dollars, Local Sense. He outlines many practical innovations that can flow money back into the productivity and prosperity of the places we call home. With the growing interest in moving our money out of Wall Street and into Main Street, Michael's book provides a very welcome roadmap for local investing.--Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life

"Michael Shuman answers a lot of questions I've always wondered about, and in the process paints a practical vision of exactly where we need to be headed in this country. Consider this book an excellent investment!"--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and The End of Nature

From the Back Cover

Michael Shuman has done it again. InLocal Dollars, Local Sense, he answers the central question of the era: How does capital get invested? Whether you are concerned with job creation, environmental destruction, immigration, public health or education, this book will not only tell you why things are going wrong, it will tell you how we can make things right.--Kevin Danaher, cofounder, Global Exchange and Green Festivals

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Product Details

  • Series: Community Resilience Guides
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (February 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603583432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603583435
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Alberto Vargas VINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am very interested in profitably investing the little money that I have, and in building a more resilient local community around me. This book does cover this topic, but not in the way I expected. I am torn between giving it two or four stars, so I settled on 3. Why?

The book contains very little actionable advice of any sort. This was the biggest disappointment. Perhaps the only truly actionable advice was to move your money from large banks to local credit unions.

Where the book excels is in providing an overview of the local / small investment field and showing how it can be a lot more profitable than what Wall Street offers. It covers federal regulations which drive our investments towards public companies and Wall Street and prevent us from making investments in small or local companies. The author has interviewed quite a few entrepreneurs and investors who have found creative ways to bypass the regulations and raise or invest money in their local communities. Unfortunately, these are one-off examples from specific cities, and there are no pointers to finding something similar where you live.

One general quibble I have is with the focus of the book. It looks like it is more about singing Kumbaya than investing. To be more precise, it is more about the virtues of communal utopia and eating organic food than about making money. For example, the author is excited that at sites like Kiva and Kickstarter "no one involved in these sites is trying to get rich" while at the Prosper site, "in contrast, lenders and borrowers across the planet are trolling for deals just to make more money".
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Burgundy Damsel VINE VOICE on March 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If there ever was a time when America needed a book like this, it's now! Shuman cuts through the red tape and miles of legal jargon to explain in applicable, understandable terms how individuals and communities can get off the unstable roller coaster that is the stock market and start investing well.

Among key ideas explored in the book are:
* The ludicrousness of blindly investing our money in businesses we don't agree with, that don't benefit us, and that we cannot influence
* The reality the unaccredited investors (read: nearly all Americans) actually have options beyond the traditional 401(k) and mutual funds
* Why investing locally in small businesses has a dramatically more powerful and long-term impact on the economy than any government stimulus package ever could
* How to find and get involved in socially, ethically and environmentally responsible investing that aligns with your values
* What the real investing numbers for various options look like and how to run them yourself
* Key experimental or start-up models individuals and communities can get involved in or duplicate to maximize their own opportunity and effectiveness

My favorite chapter, admittedly, was the last one about investing in ourselves. It validated what many of us already suspect - investing in our homes, educations and getting out of debt is always a better investment than stocks, bonds or retirement accounts!

This book should definitely make the reading list of anyone disillusioned with Wall Street, anyone who is involved in small business, non-profits, the investment world or public service. In fact, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading it!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hardy on February 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
What do you mean, I can't invest in a local business? Wait, I can only place my retirement dollars with some fund that scatters my dollars to the globalized winds, and maybe returns some financial gains, but almost certainly drives social and environmental harm? And those laws ostensibly designed to protect middle-class folks from scam artists have become tools for new, far more sophisticated manipulators of financial systems?

Yep. But...thanks to this book, and the many people and organizations it profiles (and the growing movement to democratize finance), you can do something better with your hard-earned cash than send it tail-chasing after unsustainable returns.

Shuman makes the case -- patiently and with well-drawn examples -- for the emerging local alternatives to the global financial system. As he rightly points out, "moving your (checking and savings) money" from Chase to the local credit union or bank is just a start in aligning your money with your values. And although socially responsible investing is almost certainly better than totally oblivious investing, it's probably not as responsible as you'd like to believe.

The opportunities outlined in this book are not for the faint at heart...or are they? In a world where oil costs $100+ a barrel and apples are flown from South America to South Dakota each day, does investing in local agriculture seem risky or crafty? When mortgage-backed securities are revealed as Potemkin villages, doesn't local housing seem a more sensible option?

The final chapter of Local Dollars, Local Sense brings it home, with a WWYD focus...and a confession from the author that for decades, he was just like most of us: feckless. Shuman's point: If I can dig my way out, you can too.
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