Top critical review
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An interesting and somewhat original point of view - but no good specific advice
on October 28, 2012
This is a completely different "sky is falling" Book. It is worth reading for its original and well researched point of view.
This Book is intended to be a 2012 edition of an earlier published book. In many cases the Author has updated the Book. In some cases, he has not. For example, the Author writes, on page 52, "No investment outlook written in mid-2012 would be complete without some mention of the upcoming presidential election." This indicates that the Book is current as of July-August 2012. Yet a few paragraphs later, he writes "Overall, 2012 should bring us short bouts of excitement followed by long periods of relative boredom--kind of like 2011." Huh? This indicates the book was written in 2011, and is predicting events that will take place in 2012. Incidentally, this statement occurs in Chapter 2, which is supposed to update the Book to mid-2012. There are just enough passages that have not been updated that make you wonder where else the Author has been sloppy. Personally, I found this issue to be irritating, but not fatal. The Author provides such an original view point, so contrary to what he calls the "Conventional Wisdom", that the Book is worth reading.
If you are looking for specific investments to protect yourself, don't buy the Book. The Author is, in some ways, no different than many other authors of similar books in that he wants you to sign up for his newsletter, individualized investment management, etc. [See the Author's website--it's not hard to find]. About half way through the Book there is a specific pitch for the Author's individual investor services and website and newsletter. This type of 'bait-and-switch' always rubs me the wrong way.
Furthermore, just about every potential investment, from stocks, to real estate, to bonds, to insurance, to T-Bills, is referred to at some point as an investment that will eventually fail swiftly and spectacularly. You want to throw up your hands and say there is no safe investment.
The Author does recommend various investments (p.256). Most are a bit past the sophistication of the average investor -- TIPs,foreign currencies, commodities, etc. Furthermore, the Author is clear that you cannot prosper simply by taking his recommendations on any investment vehicle. He repeats, over and over again, that the individual investor will avoid losses only by following his advice, and only by "active portfolio management". Just about every investment vehicle reccomended by the Author will eventually become a bad investment. When will they go bad? Very quickly. Thus, all investments require "active investment management". (See e.g., p. 145 -- "[E]ven TIPS require active investment management.")
Few individual investors have the expertise or time to be "active portfolio managers". The Author has clearly structured his Book in this manner to drive you to his own website and investment services. This by itself would normally cause me to give the Book 1 star. But the Author's predictions are so out of the mainstream, and so clearly presented, and so well reasoned, and (apparently) well researched (many, many graphs and charts from independent sources to back up his claims), that I stuck with the Book. If this Book had been written by someone not selling a separate product, for example,a lone macroeconomist crying in the wilderness,it would probably have skyrocketed to number one on the bestseller list.
In summary, read the Book for a well reasoned original argument on why we are now in a very dangerous time, a time that is very different from other recessions/depressions/economic catastrophes. Make your own mind up, but only after reading several books on this topic. This one is worth reading if only because it is so different than all the others. I enjoyed it and I recommend it.