Uninve$ted: How Wall Street Hijacks Your Money & How To Fight Back, by Bobby Monks with Justin Jaffe and Bree LaCasse
It is striking and remarkable that in reading a book that I thought would complement what I had been reading by John Bogle and those who follow him, and low and behold, this book contains a great deal of the advice of John Bogle even if it has a different focus. It is striking, and more than a little bit alarming, that one can encounter John Bogle so often when one is looking for those who are less than sanguine about the way that Wall Street makes its money as parasites on the well-being of financially active people in the general public. It is one thing to make a living, as I do, by existing in the middle space between messy data and people who are not well-equipped to deal with, but it is an entirely less noble calling to make money out of the proceeds that belong to others without providing any worthwhile service as a result. How did this come to pass? The author explains that this unfortunate turn of events has taken place as a result of a sleeping public that has blindly trusted that someone would look out for their interests when no one has.
The author begins this short book of less than 150 pages by discussing the investor’s dream of ownership outsourced (1) and then the shift from defined benefit pension plans to 401(k) retirement plans (2) that occurred as companies were unable to keep up with their pension obligations. The author then moves to discuss the lack of oversight over the financial industry that takes places by watchdogs that have all too often become lapdogs for those corrupt companies engaged in various chicanery at the expense of ordinary investors (3). The author talks about the big sleep that people have felt when it comes to their mutual funds (4) and the fact that there is no escape from the big sleep at present for all too many people (5). The author closes the book with chapters on a better way to invest than simply trusting people who have no motivation nor interest (or ability) to make more money for investors (6) and then provide seven ways to reinvest in a different way for the reader to take advantage of (7), after which there is a conclusion, acknowledgements, and notes and an index.
In general, this book does not offer its reader any sort of financial truth that is not widely available to anyone who can read books on investing wisely. Yet a large group of people need to know not only that the current way of investing largely profits croupiers and middlemen who benefit from opaque business operations. There are only a few ways out of these problems, one of which is to adopt a strategy that seeks to ensure the normal gains of the market and abandoning efforts to beat the market, and the only other ways are to seek enough information that one at least can invest according to one’s own standards and belief systems through knowledge of the operations of companies and their ethical standards. Yet given the sad state of bureaucracy as well as the self-interest of large and powerful financial companies, it is likely that things will change only when customers cut out the financial companies and take some personal responsibility with their investments. As unlikely as this seems to be, it is the goal that the author has with this book, and it is a goal I wholeheartedly support and hope to see at least in part.