A firm, friendly must-read for readers in their later years.

THE ALL-WEATHER RETIREMENT PORTFOLIO

YOUR POST-RETIREMENT INVESTMENT GUIDE TO A WORRY-FREE INCOME FOR LIFE

A comprehensive manual on saving and planning for retirement.

Thurman, the CEO of Retirement Investment Advisors, clarifies at the outset of this second edition of his 2015 book that it stands on the shoulders of the first, looking at far more data over a larger span of time to offer the most information he can in 248 pages. Since the appearance of the first edition, he notes, a company called Global Financial Data has drawn together data on “the performance of every major asset class offered in the financial markets,” going all the way back to 1930. Using this and a wide array of other sources, he takes readers through a barrage of things to consider as they look at retirement, including whether they’re really ready to retire in the first place. The key focus of the book is reflected in its title, as Thurman concerns himself not with projecting sunny or even standard retirement conditions but rather with anticipating the worst—the kind of financial “perfect storm” that can upset even the sturdiest plans: “This is your retirement income we're talking about,” he writes. “There are no do-overs, and little margin for error.” He points out that a solid framework for retirement finances covers a 40-year time span and has enough flexibility to allow retirees not only to do plenty of things while still active, but also to keep enough funds in reserve to handle mounting costs in later years.

The most prominent aspect of the author’s approach is how it aims to help readers take stock of their individual situations: There are simple questions and simple answers about everything from income sources to equity, fixed investments, stock market speculation, annuities, and the Byzantine complexities of the American social safety net. He opens the book by striking a pitch-perfect balance between the personal (recounting a touching story about his father) and the briskly professional. He never condescends to his readers, and at no point does he ever gild the lily; the book feels like a long, friendly, but no-nonsense visit from a trusted financial adviser. He demystifies all the various investment options and empirically demonstrates how some things that initially look enticing can prove poor choices in the long run. He combines plenty of charts and numerous, personalized anecdotes, always with an eye toward clarity and concision. His program is designed to help readers make the shift from “dollar cost averaging”—the kind of money-into-the-pot saving they’ve been doing all their working lives—to “reverse dollar cost averaging,” involving the smartest, most practical ways of taking that money out. He leads readers smoothly and confidently into a discussion of the value of diversifying one’s holdings, which he notes is a key to surviving unstable markets and lean years. At every turn, Thurman tends to advise a conservative, old-school approach to money management (“prudent and practical,” he calls it), foregoing flashier tactics with higher immediate yields for solid portfolios and strategies.

A firm, friendly must-read for readers in their later years.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-950863-53-2

Page Count: 248

Publisher: ForbesBooks

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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