In The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide – Protecting Your Savings, Boost Your Income and Grow Wealthy in the Worst of Times, author Martian D. Weiss, PhD, parts clouds of financial uncertainty lingering over the carnage on Wall Street, and provides an intuitive analysis of how the Great Recession can be harnessed as a Great Opportunity.
Weiss, founding editor of the Safe Money Report and bestselling author of The Ultimate Safe Money Guide and Crash Profits: Make Money When Stocks Sink and Soar, is no stranger to financial writing and analysis. Though The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide was written in 2009, Weiss predicted the Boom as early as 2003 and maintained his reasoned skepticism during the height of the financial bacchanalia. Weiss is frequently lauded for his prescience in predicting the Millennium Boom, and is credited by the New York Times as the “the first to warn of the dangers and say so unambiguously.”
In The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide, Weiss provides a cogent set of effective strategies to help the reader deflect the continuing dangers in stocks, cut their losses in the troubled real estate market, restructure their personal financial habits and accrue a sizeable cash nest egg – and keep it safely intact.
Weiss begins with a discussion of how to accumulate the largest amount of cash possible by investing intelligently. This includes a list of the ploys greedy stock brokers use to get an investor to make rash decisions, accompanied with a way to aggressively see through their deception.
Next, Weiss guides the reader through the safe havens where their cash will truly be secure, and offers tips for protecting their funds. With a cache of cash at one’s disposal, Weiss then discusses how the reader can cash-in on the market declines, taking the unique opportunity wrought by the financial paradigm shift and bolster their balance sheets. Specifically, Weiss encourages the use of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETFs feature many of the basic characteristics of stocks but possess numerous advantages: lower costs (most ETFs are not actively managed), easy diversification and greater flexibility as they can be bought and sold at any time of the day, not only at the end of the trading day.
A substantial portion of The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide concerns real estate, though the view is more backward than forward looking. Weiss does an excellent job discussing the economic factors which led to the Millennium Boom, such as increased reliance by homebuyers on debt, speculator interference in the market, government dominance in the mortgage lending industry and consumer deception such as predatory lending. However, his cure for the housing market is less discernible.
For example, the section titled, “10 Steps For Selling Your Home in a Sinking Market,” contains no commentary on shortpay offs or negative equity. While this may be tolerable for a book with a national audience, this is a glaring omission for California readers. Negative equity is the elephant in the room which Weiss delicately manages to avoid, but his contortions are akin to writing about a symphony orchestra but never once mentioning the string section.
Weiss does offer some concrete advice for those in California who intend to weather the storm and keep their homes, such as cutting property taxes, utilizing government aid programs and competitively shopping for homeowner’s insurance. While the book is not California-specific, many of the principles discussed in the book, both real estate-related and otherwise, are broad in scope and very much applicable to California.
Weiss’ pedigree should not intimidate novice readers. Though dealing with complex concepts, Weiss’ writing is accessible, lively and perfect for new inductees to the world of strategic investing and estate planning. The financial reality we currently find ourselves enmeshed in is dire, but the tone of Weiss’ book is far from being defeatist. Weiss gleefully deconstructs America’s darkest hour in simple, active language. Despite the sometimes somber subject matter, the tone of The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide is ultimately hopeful. And armed with Weiss’ basic guidelines, this palpable sense of hope is contagious. Fill your financial arsenal with Weiss’ easy-to-understand tips, and you’ll emerge this recession not only unscathed, but prosperous.
For more book reviews, visit first tuesday’s Book Review page.