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Survival Investing: How to Prosper Amid Thieving Banks and Corrupt Governments Hardcover – June 19, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


A nonconformist approach to finance and investing that should appeal to politically minded contrarians. (Kirkus Reviews)

This slim but shrewd discussion of money and politics--and the deleterious effect the latter has on the former--is a provocative study of the dangers of impending runaway inflation. (Publishers Weekly)

Finance is based on trust. But what do you do if you cannot trust financiers? Talbott, who has long been an acute observer of what's wrong with our financial system, proposes provocative answers. (Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Economics, MIT and co-author of Why Nations Fail)

You need not embrace John's political bombast, but you ignore his financial prescriptions at your peril. For over a decade, he has made consistently prescient observations about future developments that were ignored by the vast majority of establishment analysts and pundits...until they happened. John is a brilliant unconventional thinker. His concept, introduced in this book, of measuring investment returns in terms of ounces of gold instead of units of paper currency could revolutionize investment practice much as Einstein's general relativity revolutionized cosmology. (Peter Fahey, Retired Partner, Goldman, Sachs & Co.)

In this highly readable, brutally honest, and genuine book, Talbott identifies the key problem our society and economic system face - corporations, especially banks, have way too much political power and cannot be trusted with investors' money as governments, regulators, and even academics betray their responsibilities to the public. Talbott calls it like he sees it. (Anat Admati, Professor of Finance and Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business)

John Talbott, a Wall Street insider, blows a deafening whistle in this no-holds-bar description of financial corruption and government malfeasance. His grave warnings about Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue come with strong advice about how to protect ourselves from the next terrible economic storm -- Uncle Sam's going broke. Survival Investing will put your hair on end, but also let you sleep at night. It's a must read. (Laurence Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics, Boston University and co-author of The Clash of Generations)

About the Author

John R. Talbott is a former investment banker, economics guru, and bestselling author with global book sales approaching 200,000. He has established himself as a predictor of major economic events over the last two decades, including the technology stock collapse, the overheated national housing market, and the global mortgage crisis. Talbott has had articles published in The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the International Herald Tribune, The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. He has appeared as a financial expert on television for CNN, CBS, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business News, CSPAN, and MSNBC as well as on hundreds of radio programs. Talbott was previously a visiting scholar at UCLA's Anderson School of Management as well as a top Goldman Sachs investment banker.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230341225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230341227
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John offers financial consulting advice on a very personal and confidential basis to individuals and families. You can learn more about his One on One consulting activities at

John R. Talbott is the bestselling author of nine books on economics and politics that have accurately detailed and predicted the causes and devastating effects of this entire financial crisis including, in 2003, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market. In 2004, he correctly identified corporate and banking lobbyists and big corporate money in politics as the major underlying cause of the current crisis with, Where America Went Wrong. In January 2006, he called the absolute peak month of home prices in the US by releasing, Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble and warned that the problem was not local, or even national, but international. In 2008, his book, Contagion: The Financial Epidemic That Is Sweeping the Global Economy predicted the subprime mortgage problem developing in the US would mutate and grow and infect not only prime mortgages, but other markets such as the stock market, commercial real estate, the municipal bond market, as well as threaten the solvency of banks and governments around the globe leading to a very long, deep and painful global recession. In 2009, The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street exposed the ineptness of the government's response to the crisis and the futility of enacting real reform of Wall Street when Wall Street itself is the biggest lobbyist of our congress.

Formerly, an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and a Visiting Scholar at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, Talbott has written peer reviewed academic research on democracy, inequality, AIDS prevention and developing country economics and has acted as an economic adviser to Jordan and Russia. He has made presentations on economics and politics throughout the United States and in Italy and Australia. He graduated from Cornell's School of Engineering and received an MBA from UCLA. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Herald Tribune, the New Republic, the Huffington Post and He has appeared as a financial expert on television for CNN, CBS, Fox News, CNBC, FBN, CSPAN and MSNBC as well as on hundreds of radio programs. Talbott, whose family has lived in Kentucky for 230 years is the son of a career Army officer, is 57 years old, single, an avid college football and basketball fan and lives on the left coast with his faithful companion, Boca Jr., who rarely objects to any of Talbott's writings or politics except when it is time to go for a walk.

The media can contact Talbott at as well as anyone who might be interested in discussing possible speaking engagements. Those interested in learning more about Talbott's one on one consulting service can find information here

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on June 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This short, 242-page book is pithy and very easy to read. The material in it is
fascinating. The former Goldman-Sachs investment banker lays out his practical theories
in s simple, straight forth mannner in 14 brief chapters and an Introduction and detailed index. Those 14 chapters include, "Corruption in the Banks, The United States Stumbles and Falls, The Entire World Faces Default, No Reform Coming, The Low-Wage Threat of China and India, Why Economists Don't Get It, Why Markets Don't Behave the Way They Are Supposed To, Why Stocks, Bonds, and Money Markets Won't Cut It, Only an Idiot Would Lend to a Sovereign Government, Why Diversification Won't Help, Real Assets--Real Returns, Gold as a Yardstick and as an Investment, " and "A Brave New World."
Those chapter titles provide a quick overview of the book's main themes. Frankly I found Chapter 12 "Real Assets--Real Returns" the most interesting. That's because so few people understand that paper assets are just that, paper assets. Real assets are things like "gold and other commodities: land, houses, office buildings, apartment buildigns, and even small businesses."
"There are many advantages in moving your assets from financial securities to real assets.
"First, by focusing on the purchases of real assets, you'll free yourself (to a great degree) from dependence on corrupt bankers and self-interested stockbrokers and financial advisers." Governments are deliberately printing and depreciating their currency to help balance their bloated budgets. "Over the last 52 years, the dollar has devalued relative to gold by 98 percent. "
There were some surprising recommendations included in this book.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ron on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Talbott for the simple reason that he has managed to be both right and early in making predictions about major economic events of recent times. For example, in his 2003 book, 'The Coming Crash in the Housing Market' (yes, 2003), he brilliantly identified and illuminated most of the key factors behind that disaster. In his 2008 book, 'Contagion', he warned of the then looming, now ongoing financial disaster in Europe, and its ramifications for the world. (show of hands: does anyone remember Greenspan or Bernanke or Geithner or any major political figure - your dedicated public servants all - giving you similar warnings? i don't think so. why exactly do we pay these guys? Talbott for King...)

That said, the current book provides limited though useful investment advice. Realistically, we all know we are in tough times and there simply may not be a great many good investment opportunities available anywhere. If you've followed Talbott in the Huffington Post, you may find there is little additional information in the book. If you haven't read Talbott before, you owe it to yourself and your financial future to get on board. Very much recommended.

edit: my apologies for the line "..there simply may not be a great many good investment opportunities available anywhere" - that was just wrong...
as I, and Talbott, should have been well aware, the U.S. stock market has been incredibly hot since the recovery (starting around March 2009) from the housing crash...if you had put your money in the market back then, even as a simple buy-and-holder, you would have done very, very well...the markets are still doing pretty well (Sept.2014) and the rise may not be over yet, but 5+ years of opportunity have passed since then...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michigan Reviewer on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
John R. Talbott is quite bearish on our world economy. I so wish I could disagree with his views, but I can't. According to Talbott the average investor, wage earner or citizen does not stand a snow ball's chance in a hot place with the way today's political economy is configured. He claims that our politicians are owned by the banks. He claims that our business schools are run by the banks. He claims that the IMF is run by the banks. All of this, Talbott says, makes it well nigh impossible for the market to work in an unfettered manner. The rules he says, are in favor of the "house", which happens to be banks that are too big to fail propped up by pols who are beholden to these banks for the funding to run their campaigns. Depressing, but it does make sense. He pokes holes in retail investment advice. He says Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, with their relentless running of the printing presses, are setting the world up for a nasty bout of inflation. He says only fools would invest in fixed income securities. He says diversification is also a joke, as major players have far more info than the average investor on Main Street. He points out the current troubles in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, etc, but also points out that Japan, France, Germany and even the US are being set up for failure. His recommendations? Buy gold and real estate. I agree with most of what he says, but do find the gold thing, at current prices, to be somewhat imprudent. Real estate on the other hand? He claims prices have bottomed and that buying real estate with guaranteed sub 4% interest rates is a smart idea. Have my home already, so I think I shall pass, but not bad advice. This is a very bearish book. He does, however, make some very valid points. He is also a very good writer.
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