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on May 16, 2009
I have a great deal of respect for the author's intellect and courage in predicting various economic events. However, the investment advice given in this book is not fully presented by the author and may actually be harmful to some investors.

In Chapter 7, he recommends creating your own hedge positions using ETFs. An experienced and knowledgeable investor will easily understand this section and know, even though it isn't included, of the trade-offs created by the use of inverse index ETFs. But, for most readers, the concept of inverse index funds is probably new to them and, although there are a few warnings in later chapters, they should be provided with the hypothetical investment returns if the market were to rise.

Basically, inverse funds move in the opposite direction of the index that they track, so if the inverse ETF tracks the S&P500 and the S&P500 drops 10%, the inverse fund would theoretically go up 10%. The problem with the illustrations, on pages 108-109, is that the potential returns are only shown for how the portfolios would perform if Mr. Weiss is correct and the market continues to fall. He does not show what happens when the market goes up 10%. I would highly recommend that anyone attempting to implement any of the recommended portfolios perform their own analysis or find a competent fee-only financial planner or fee-only investment advisor to help them. I'm not against hedging, but if you don't know what you're doing and you don't monitor this type of portfolio, you might get a rude awakening after any market surge. As described in the book, when the index rises 10%, the single leveraged, or 1X, inverse fund will drop 10%. The 2X drops 20% and the 3X would fall 30%. If we have a year like 2003 and the index does almost 30%, the leveraged 3X fund would drop almost 90%. In essence, the author is recommending that the investor give up some of the gain in good markets to hedge against those times when the market falls. This is commonly used by institutional investors, but they typically use professional advisors to handle the day-to-day details of a hedged portfolio. These funds are intended for daily trading, not long-term holding. The funds are designed to move inversely to the index on a daily basis. For longer periods, volatility drag causes the returns of these funds to vary, sometimes dramatically, from the index. See the comments below this review.
(Since writing this review last month, FINRA, the regulatory agency for the brokerage industry and its' products released a Regulatory Notice #09-31 regarding Leveraged ETF's. You can view this release by going to the FINRA website, selecting Investment Professionals, Regulation (upper left) click the word "notices" and download the pdf. I would strongly suggest any investor review the FINRA notice and fully review the leveraged ETF products prior to considering any implementation of the investment plan described in The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide.)

It is possible this information is available to subscribers to his newsletter or on his website, but you should know the anticipated outcome of these portfolio's if he's wrong about a continuing depression. The rest of the book offers some good advice on what he believes will happen and how to handle it. Often, the investment recommendations are dependent on the reader subscribing to a newsletter or email so that they can be notified when the time is "right" to make changes in their 401k, investment accounts, etc.
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on March 4, 2010
I have subscribed for several months to Martin Weiss's free Internet newsletter "Money and Markets". Thus I have read many of the ideas brought together in this book. I am amazed so few people bother to research the backgrounds of guys like Martin before plunging headlong into investments that can make them poor.

This is not to say that Mr. Weiss is deliberately defrauding anyone. It is conceivable that, like prominent authors such as Howard J. Ruff and Gary North in 1979-1982, Weiss believes what he writes. Nor am I suggesting that the US economy is in great shape and won't plunge us into another major equities market crash soon. One may accept both premises and still believe Mr. Weiss's advice to be unsound.

Ultimately, the "proof of the pudding" is in the eating. Many of Howard Ruff's followers discovered to their personal woe that the economic world of 1980 wasn't coming to an end in quite the manner that their prophet predicted. Gold did not appreciate to $2,000 per ounce and gold stocks did not provide leverage on this predicted explosion in hard asset values. Silver crashed 90%+ after the Hunt Brothers' effort to corner the silver market failed. Quite a number of Ruff's investors crashed along with their money and investors who follow Weiss could follow a similar trajectory.

Weiss' advice might be assessed from the investment results he has already produced for people who have paid thousands of dollars for his advice. In this context, I suggest that readers investigate the following:

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING File No. 3-12341 Securities and Exchange Commission, June22, 2006. This proceeding details findings supporting administrative penalties of over $2 million dollars assessed against Mr. Weiss and his associate Larry Edelson. A finding of the Cease and Desist order was "...during the relevant time period, many subscribers who followed each Weiss Research trading recommendation - as Weiss Research encouraged its subscribers to do - experienced overall returns that were substantially lower than Weiss Research's profit examples and most actually lost money." Also pertinent was the finding that Weiss and Edelson acted as Investment Advisers under SEC definitions, at a time when not licensed to do so. You're going to trust these guys to guide your financial future? What are you thinking?

Another source appears to have been written by former investors of Martin Weiss, in the UK. The site features a long-term trading history for investments recommended by Mr. Weiss to his paying clients. This source confirms that Weiss investors have persistently lost money. Search Google for the term "trading and legal history" plus "Martin Weiss".

Recent issues of Weiss Research "Money and Markets" make claims of "guaranteed profits" by applying a type of technical analysis called "cycle theory". This theory is supposedly validated by data analysis of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, now directed by Richard Mogey. However, multiple online references reveal that the methods of the Foundation have been discredited by legitimate economists since it was chartered under Herbert Hoover. As but one example, the Foundation claims to be able to predict major economic shifts from the study of over 200 years of economic history. Such a claim is foolish to the extreme. The structures and processes of our economy changed radically between any two 50 year periods of that time. Thus there is no underlying cause-and-effect mechanism from which to derive an "economic cycle" that applies to the full period. One might as well be dredging up investment advice from a seance.

Thus to the reader: treat the book as light entertainment. If you act on its advice, you could find yourself poor within a few years.
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on April 13, 2009
Weiss' "The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide" is a smart, well-written book full of sound financial principles, all of which make it worth buying. Using historical examples, recent trends, and advice from dad, Weiss brings a well-rounded understanding of the current economic crisis to the reader in a simple, easy-to-understand fashion.

His advice is summed up in a couple quotes: the depression was inevitable because of the housing bust, the mortgage meltdown, and the biggest debt crisis in history. The housing bust was cased by Fannie and Freddie Mac (as Weiss explains, "some of the largest speculative bubbles of all time were born out of government-sponsored monopolies"). And we can "kick the can down the road" (meaning we can bailout broken firms and "stimulate" the economy, but that will just delay the inevitable major crash.

But we can't do anything about our governments' reckless behavior until the next election, so Weis offers immediate advice to readers that they can do somehting about: save, reduce debt and sell stocks (the latter one might not be such a hot idea since it appears the markets have at least started a major rebound). He gives very good advaice about looking for the bottom of the economic retraction: look for the government to capitulate (give up trying to save the world!). He recommends investing in etfs (or reverse etfs) and treasury-only MM Funds.

This is a great read and highly recommended, though Weiss neglects a major contributor to the problem: the Federal Reserve. If you're looking for a bit more unconventional but very beneficial techniques for thriving in this economy check out Surviving the Second Great Depression: How to Take Advantage of the Government That Is Trying to Take Advantage of You. For a better summary of what got us here check out Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.
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on July 9, 2009
I bought this book for two reasons: (1) I like to hear all views about the economic outlook and wanted to hear a strong bearish case, and (2) if I believed his outlook, I wanted specific ideas about how to act.

As for the first point, if you are already convinced that we're in for a long and severe depression and don't need much convincing, this book will confirm your views. But for the rest of us, the book's argument is less than convincing. When I read non-fiction books about science, economics or investing, I expect citations (usually footnotes) so I can confirm facts that seem questionable. Much of the argument is fear-based, recounting the horrors of the Great Depression: The bulls got it wrong then, don't end up like them. There is also a lot of "hindsight" argument in this book, bolstered with examples of predictions Weiss "got right" offered as "proof" to the reader that Weiss must be right again. He fails to mention all the predictions he "got wrong." Warren Buffet has been right a lot too (he's been wrong too), but he doesn't share Weiss's outlook. So who is right? This is one reader that needs facts - citations to verifiable facts - to help me differentiate between opinions of seemingly qualified pundits. This is particularly true since have serious questions about Weiss's facts. He cites mortgages with balloon payments as an example of a type of mortgage that did not exist in 1929. I learned differently in my real estate finance course. If you are looking for a strong "bear" argument, this is not your book. Much of the argument is premised on statements about derivatives. I would have loved to see citations.

As for the second point - what to do if the next great depression is upon us - the book provides an adequate outline. But it is too general. I'll sum it up for you: sell your house now, short the stock market (but get the timing right), and buy at the bottom (but get the timing right). How can you tell when the timing is right? Go to Weiss's website and sign up for his newsletter.

There you have it. If you already believe a depression is upon us, don't waste time and money on this book. It's just a long advertisement, rushed to market to seize on the state of the economy without providing citations to research. Skip the ad, I'll give it to you for free. [...]

If you are a perma-bull, and need some perspective, then its a good read. If you (like me) are agnostic and looking for fact-based arguments, don't bother. I don't run my finances based on fear or hope. You shouldn't either.
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on June 6, 2009
His entire philosophy is based on us going through a deflationary depression just like last time. His main piece of advice is to put all your money in US Treasuries. Yeah right...hear that China, stop buying up all those commodities and just keep buying our worthless Treasury bonds. The Chinese aren't stupid and neither am I, this is going to be an inflationary depression. When we went through the first Great Depression, we were on the gold standard. This time it's a totally different situation with our fiat currency and a Federal Reserve creating trillions out of thin air. How can the author be so wrong in his world view. I blame his father, a survivor of the Great Depression, who shaped the author's understanding of how a depression works. His viewpoint has obviously been skewed by all of the conversations he references with his father. But for him not to be able to see that this time it's an inflationary rather than deflationary depression blows my mind. Out of respect for his father or the fact that he makes a commission from selling T-bills, he has written a book that is more suited for 1929 than it is for 2009.
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I've been a fan of the Weiss Publications for many years so wasn't sure this book would have anything new to offer. So often, the books published by those with ongoing newsletters or other online services tend to be increasingly shallow, reprints of information you have encountered repeatedly or-- worse of all -- shallow promotional tools hyping the sale of their expensive products or service subscriptions.
While the author does indeed have many information products including newsletters etc...he refrains from watering down his content Or shameless promotional efforts throughout. Instead, he delivers delightfuly fresh content, easy to read and relevant.

I read a lot of business books...in fact, I teach business/finance etc at the college level, write and consult on the topic so I'm always in the middle of reading at least one (or more) business books. Here are a few things that set this one apart from the rest...
1. The author is unapologetic about his position. In fact, he publishes his email and contact information right up front so you can write or comment.
2. Accessible. This book is reader friendly and designed to appeal to a wide audience. The advice is do-able and can be easily modified to fit any budget...this is not a book only for those with massive portfolio's searching for a bigger/better return but truly a survival manual. Those with little money concerned how they will cover the basics are likely to find as much value in the book as those nearing retirement watching their 401k or other investments shrink in recent years.
3. Practical. The advice is meant to take action on...not sell you the next level. Likewise, the information is different from that of the newsletters although regular readers of Martin Weiss will be pleased to find it consistent with his core suggestions and outlook.

Bottom line...whether you grow wealthy or simply preserve your standard of living while others sink this book is well worth the time and effort to review.
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on June 10, 2009
I'm admitting right up front that I haven't read the entire book. Having said that however, as a paying subscriber to Weiss's Safe Money Report, I've been privy to much of the books contents and am familiar with his philosophy and investing strategy.

Weiss did call the financial meltdown before it happened but in very general terms. Since the bottom however, he has been completely off the mark. He's been adamant about selling all your equities regardless of losses because the market's going lower, much lower according to Weiss. Additionally, he's taken it even further and has been recommending his clients short the market by buying Inverse ETFs. For all the people who might have followed this advice, they've missed the opportunity to recover a substantial portion of their losses as the market is up nearly 40% from its lows a few months ago. Actually, they would have lost even more (significantly more) had they been short the market over this same period of time.

Weiss is convinced we're heading for another great depression and seems determined to continue beating that drum regardless of current reality. Ironically, Mr. Weiss is now offering a market timing service, this in spite of the fact he's missed both significant rallies since last November.

Weiss is soliciting comments for his blog related to the market timing he's offering. I submitted the comment below but apparently it didn't make the cut.

"Martin,

Forgive me for being skeptical that you have the secret to timing the market. I followed your recommendations and sold all my equity positions several months ago. As you know the S&P 500 index is up about 40% since March. That would have gone a long way offsetting my losses but I missed out. I also followed your recommendations to buy inverse ETFs, recommendations you've been making since last year. Again, the market is up significantly over the past months resulting in additional losses to my portfolio.

You may have called the financial meltdown in general terms, kudos for that. But with all due respect sir, your market timing has completely missed the mark.

Regards,
Steve"

Bottom line - no one has a crystal ball. I think Mr. Weiss is stuck in the past. Granted the economy is in bad shape but we're in unchartered waters and unprecedented actions are put into play almost weekly - no one can know how this is going to turn out.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2009
First of all, I was impressed by the author's almost clairvoyant predictions of the financial nightmare involving the banks, brokerage companies, etc that we are now living through. What attracted me to this book were the book's title promising answers and guidance that Americans need right now and the author's reputation. I admit that I was a bit skeptical that one book could do all the title claims to do.

I was happily surprised to find solid, bottomline advise on battening down your financial hatches and once that's done, investing safely in these unpredictable times. Maybe even thriving without risking whatever you've got left after the recent stock market ups and downs.

This is a great book that I think anyone who's concerned about the current US economic situation and their own financial options within the current situation will find to be very helpful.
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on April 15, 2009
Dr. Weiss has written a book that even the not-so-adept financial person can easily understand and relate. During the recent months - so many words have been floating across the media - bailouts, bankruptcy, stimulus, financial tsunami - that I have encountered sleepless nights and worry for my family and our income. Thanks to Dr. Weiss, I now have a better understanding of why this crisis happened, what the next phase will be, and most importantly - how I can better prepare for the future. He explains everything from choosing my bank...keeping more of my money... paying down debt... to whether to sell or keep my home . Even better he shows steps to secure my investments and how to even grow my wealth now and when the economy recovers.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about theirs and their family's financial future.
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on April 18, 2009
I have two other books by Dr. Weiss (The Ultimate Safe Money Guide and Crash Profits), and this is beyond a doubt his best yet. The title perfectly sums up the book -- it really is the ULTIMATE depression survival guide.

Dr. Weiss does much more than shed light on the origins of the current economic crisis; he tells you exactly how to prepare yourself and your family to survive the dark days ahead. Including how to potect -- and grow -- your money ... even in the darkest of times.

Despite the grim subject, Dr. Weiss' clear, friendly, and sometimes irreverent style makes the book a fast, fun, and inspiring read. Even technical information is presented clearly and in a way that is easily understood. So far, I've read The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide cover-to-cover twice. And my wife is reading it as I type this.

For anyone worried about the economy, this book is a must-read. And if you're not, you shoulg get it anyway. The information it contains is priceless ... and it makes a great conversation piece sitting on the coffee table. Especially since Dr. Weiss has graciously donated all proceeds from the book to charity!
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