Neal Lipschutz

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. That's because the generation whose size, influence, and self-referential world view has altered every aspect of American life is certainly not babyish anymore. (A note of disclosure: I'm a card-carrying member of the boomer group.) The boomers are now finding (often to their utter surprise) that they are all grown up and not fully prepared to finance and emotionally weather such important life milestones as their children's higher education and their own approaching retirement. Some new books are here to help.

The generation that keeps on ticking Don't Stop the Career Clock: Rejecting the Myths of Aging for a New Way to Work in the 21st Century by Helen Harkness (Davies-Black Publishing, $17.95, 0891061274) is a blast of optimism for 40-something boomers and those even later in life who think they are on the downhill slope. Harkness, a career counselor, successfully bursts many of the stereotypes of aging that equate the addition of years with mental and physical deterioration and a loss of value in the work world. She tells people to focus on their functional ages, not their chronological ones. At one point she writes: The greatest of all remedies for the fear of age and death is a burning desire for achievement, backed by useful service to others. Busy people seldom have time to worry about dying. Harkness spends time in this book examining medical studies that refute myths about age and links to mental and physical decline. She also offers practical advice, with checklists and exercises, for people interested in a mid-life career switch or a chance to go into business for themselves. In an interesting note on the age 65, still considered by many a magical number at which time people should close up the working portion of their lives, Harkness writes: In the 1930s, when the U.

S. government was establishing the age for receiving Social Security benefits, 65 was adopted as the age for retirement. This was a time when life expectancy was around 45 and the unemployment rate was 25 percent. How mindless can this be for today's work force, with life expectancy at 78 and rising rapidly, and unemployment at its lowest level in 25 years? Finding financial security Okay, so your retirement won't be as traditional as that of your parents. Still, you'll need some extra financial security as you grow older to give you greater flexibility and allow you to slow down your work schedule if that's what you want. Don't know where to start on that complicated trail? A good place is If You're Clueless About Financial Planning and Want to Know More by Seth Godin and John Parmelee (Dearborn, $15.95, 0793129885). The book lives up to the promise inherent in its title in that it doesn't assume much prior knowledge and does provide good basic instruction. The range of subjects is quite wide, from different types of stock and bond investments to life insurance to college financial aid and more. Given the subject range, none of the topics gets in-depth treatment, but there are many referrals about where to find more information in other books and via the Internet.

Retiring comfortably It's become an accepted axiom that people retiring in the next quarter-century will need a lot more than Social Security payments to comfortably support themselves. The demographic swell of boomers hitting retirement age around the year 2015 will put unprecedented pressure on the Social Security system. Debate is already under way in Washington, D.

C., about ways to save or reform the system. Meanwhile, surveys of younger people reveal deep skepticism about what will be left for them when they reach retirement age, despite lifetimes of contributions. While urging people to assume that Social Security will not form the lion's share of their retirement income, John F. Wasik, author of The Late-Start Investor: The Better-Late-Than-Never Guide to Realizing Your Retirement Dreams (Henry Holt, $14.95, 0805055029), makes interesting points that should serve to dispel the worst doom and gloom about the future of Social Security.

Wasik writes: Why does anyone in Washington think the 77-million-strong baby boom generation will want less from these programs after they worked so hard to make retirement a pleasant, more financially secure experience? If anything, given the selfishness traditionally ascribed to the me generation, they will want more out of retirement programs, not less. And as this generation gains power in politics, you will see a huge decrease in the political ill will toward big government programs. Wasik, special projects editor for Consumers Digest magazine, provides a balanced, common-sensical approach toward finding a New Prosperity as one approaches retirement. He urges reduced spending to increase the amount of money available for investing; an inventory to make sure you know exactly what you have and what your sources of income are; and growth-oriented investments that take advantage of any tax deferments available. Wasik goes beyond the purely financial and offers advice on how to make later life more balanced and rewarding.

As for investments, Wasik is not afraid to get specific. In a section on mutual funds, he offers recommendations for portfolios for people at different stages of life, including those with as little as five years remaining to retirement. Wasik takes the widely held view that the closer one is to retirement, the less risk he or she should carry in their investments. For those interested in their own investment decisions, Wasik offers specific individual stock recommendations.

Homeward bound Perhaps your later-in-life plans don't include a total cessation of work, but you would like to shift gears, or, at a minimum, reduce your daily commute. The trip to work doesn't get any shorter than when you work at home. It's a growing trend likely to gain even more momentum in the 21st century as technological advances allow people in more occupations to work from home. Work at Home Wisdom: A Collection of Quips, Tips, and Inspirations to Balance Work, Family, and Home by David H. Bangs, Jr., and Andi Axman takes a look at the human side of at-home work. Light on the practical aspects of working at home such as tax implications and equipment needed (that's left to countless other books), the authors instead focus on how to stay sane and prosperous while going it alone. Among the salient pieces of advice offered in the book: Keep your work confined to your home office and don't let it spread around the house. That will give you a better chance at maintaining the separation between the personal and professional when both cohabit the same domicile. The authors also urge stay-at-homes to set clear guidelines with those they live with about when they are allowed to be disturbed during working hours. (They offer: a fire, a flood, blood, and so on. ) The book is also good on ways to fight the loneliness that can plague the at-home worker. (The authors know the territory from personal experience; both are writers who run their own at-home shows.) They suggest ways to increase human contact that can also be productive for business and personal growth. Staying at home is increasingly a route to business success. Consider this fact offered by the authors: An astonishing 45 percent of the companies in the Inc. [magazine] 500 list were started in their founder's residence . . . Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. […]

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. That's because the generation whose size, influence, and self-referential world view has altered every aspect of American life is certainly not babyish anymore. (A note of disclosure: I'm a card-carrying member of the boomer group.) The boomers are now finding (often to their utter surprise) that they are all grown up and not fully prepared to finance and emotionally weather such important life milestones as their children's higher education and their own approaching retirement. Some new books are here to help.

The generation that keeps on ticking Don't Stop the Career Clock: Rejecting the Myths of Aging for a New Way to Work in the 21st Century by Helen Harkness (Davies-Black Publishing, $17.95, 0891061274) is a blast of optimism for 40-something boomers and those even later in life who think they are on the downhill slope. Harkness, a career counselor, successfully bursts many of the stereotypes of aging that equate the addition of years with mental and physical deterioration and a loss of value in the work world. She tells people to focus on their functional ages, not their chronological ones. At one point she writes: The greatest of all remedies for the fear of age and death is a burning desire for achievement, backed by useful service to others. Busy people seldom have time to worry about dying. Harkness spends time in this book examining medical studies that refute myths about age and links to mental and physical decline. She also offers practical advice, with checklists and exercises, for people interested in a mid-life career switch or a chance to go into business for themselves. In an interesting note on the age 65, still considered by many a magical number at which time people should close up the working portion of their lives, Harkness writes: In the 1930s, when the U.

S. government was establishing the age for receiving Social Security benefits, 65 was adopted as the age for retirement. This was a time when life expectancy was around 45 and the unemployment rate was 25 percent. How mindless can this be for today's work force, with life expectancy at 78 and rising rapidly, and unemployment at its lowest level in 25 years? Finding financial security Okay, so your retirement won't be as traditional as that of your parents. Still, you'll need some extra financial security as you grow older to give you greater flexibility and allow you to slow down your work schedule if that's what you want. Don't know where to start on that complicated trail? A good place is If You're Clueless About Financial Planning and Want to Know More by Seth Godin and John Parmelee (Dearborn, $15.95, 0793129885). The book lives up to the promise inherent in its title in that it doesn't assume much prior knowledge and does provide good basic instruction. The range of subjects is quite wide, from different types of stock and bond investments to life insurance to college financial aid and more. Given the subject range, none of the topics gets in-depth treatment, but there are many referrals about where to find more information in other books and via the Internet.

Retiring comfortably It's become an accepted axiom that people retiring in the next quarter-century will need a lot more than Social Security payments to comfortably support themselves. The demographic swell of boomers hitting retirement age around the year 2015 will put unprecedented pressure on the Social Security system. Debate is already under way in Washington, D.C., about ways to save or reform the system. Meanwhile, surveys of younger people reveal deep skepticism about what will be left for them when they reach retirement age, despite lifetimes of contributions. While urging people to assume that Social Security will not form the lion's share of their retirement income, John F. Wasik, author of The Late-Start Investor: The Better-Late-Than-Never Guide to Realizing Your Retirement Dreams, makes interesting points that should serve to dispel the worst doom and gloom about the future of Social Security.

Wasik writes: Why does anyone in Washington think the 77-million-strong baby boom generation will want less from these programs after they worked so hard to make retirement a pleasant, more financially secure experience? If anything, given the selfishness traditionally ascribed to the me generation, they will want more out of retirement programs, not less. And as this generation gains power in politics, you will see a huge decrease in the political ill will toward big government programs. Wasik, special projects editor for Consumers Digest magazine, provides a balanced, common-sensical approach toward finding a New Prosperity as one approaches retirement. He urges reduced spending to increase the amount of money available for investing; an inventory to make sure you know exactly what you have and what your sources of income are; and growth-oriented investments that take advantage of any tax deferments available. Wasik goes beyond the purely financial and offers advice on how to make later life more balanced and rewarding.

As for investments, Wasik is not afraid to get specific. In a section on mutual funds, he offers recommendations for portfolios for people at different stages of life, including those with as little as five years remaining to retirement. Wasik takes the widely held view that the closer one is to retirement, the less risk he or she should carry in their investments. For those interested in their own investment decisions, Wasik offers specific individual stock recommendations.

Homeward bound Perhaps your later-in-life plans don't include a total cessation of work, but you would like to shift gears, or, at a minimum, reduce your daily commute. The trip to work doesn't get any shorter than when you work at home. It's a growing trend likely to gain even more momentum in the 21st century as technological advances allow people in more occupations to work from home. Work at Home Wisdom: A Collection of Quips, Tips, and Inspirations to Balance Work, Family, and Home by David H. Bangs, Jr., and Andi Axman (Upstart Publishing Co., $9.95, 1574101005) takes a look at the human side of at-home work. Light on the practical aspects of working at home such as tax implications and equipment needed (that's left to countless other books), the authors instead focus on how to stay sane and prosperous while going it alone. Among the salient pieces of advice offered in the book: Keep your work confined to your home office and don't let it spread around the house. That will give you a better chance at maintaining the separation between the personal and professional when both cohabit the same domicile. The authors also urge stay-at-homes to set clear guidelines with those they live with about when they are allowed to be disturbed during working hours. (They offer: a fire, a flood, blood, and so on. ) The book is also good on ways to fight the loneliness that can plague the at-home worker. (The authors know the territory from personal experience; both are writers who run their own at-home shows.) They suggest ways to increase human contact that can also be productive for business and personal growth. Staying at home is increasingly a route to business success. Consider this fact offered by the authors: An astonishing 45 percent of the companies in the Inc. [magazine] 500 list were started in their founder's residence . . . Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. […]

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. That's because the generation whose size, influence, and self-referential world view has altered every aspect of American life is certainly not babyish anymore. (A note of disclosure: I'm a card-carrying member of the boomer group.) The boomers are now finding (often to their utter surprise) that they are all grown up and not fully prepared to finance and emotionally weather such important life milestones as their children's higher education and their own approaching retirement. Some new books are here to help.

The generation that keeps on ticking Don't Stop the Career Clock: Rejecting the Myths of Aging for a New Way to Work in the 21st Century by Helen Harkness (Davies-Black Publishing, $17.95, 0891061274) is a blast of optimism for 40-something boomers and those even later in life who think they are on the downhill slope. Harkness, a career counselor, successfully bursts many of the stereotypes of aging that equate the addition of years with mental and physical deterioration and a loss of value in the work world. She tells people to focus on their functional ages, not their chronological ones. At one point she writes: The greatest of all remedies for the fear of age and death is a burning desire for achievement, backed by useful service to others. Busy people seldom have time to worry about dying. Harkness spends time in this book examining medical studies that refute myths about age and links to mental and physical decline. She also offers practical advice, with checklists and exercises, for people interested in a mid-life career switch or a chance to go into business for themselves. In an interesting note on the age 65, still considered by many a magical number at which time people should close up the working portion of their lives, Harkness writes: In the 1930s, when the U.S. government was establishing the age for receiving Social Security benefits, 65 was adopted as the age for retirement. This was a time when life expectancy was around 45 and the unemployment rate was 25 percent. How mindless can this be for today's work force, with life expectancy at 78 and rising rapidly, and unemployment at its lowest level in 25 years? Finding financial security Okay, so your retirement won't be as traditional as that of your parents. Still, you'll need some extra financial security as you grow older to give you greater flexibility and allow you to slow down your work schedule if that's what you want. Don't know where to start on that complicated trail? A good place is If You're Clueless About Financial Planning and Want to Know More by Seth Godin and John Parmelee. The book lives up to the promise inherent in its title in that it doesn't assume much prior knowledge and does provide good basic instruction. The range of subjects is quite wide, from different types of stock and bond investments to life insurance to college financial aid and more. Given the subject range, none of the topics gets in-depth treatment, but there are many referrals about where to find more information in other books and via the Internet.

Retiring comfortably It's become an accepted axiom that people retiring in the next quarter-century will need a lot more than Social Security payments to comfortably support themselves. The demographic swell of boomers hitting retirement age around the year 2015 will put unprecedented pressure on the Social Security system. Debate is already under way in Washington, D.C., about ways to save or reform the system. Meanwhile, surveys of younger people reveal deep skepticism about what will be left for them when they reach retirement age, despite lifetimes of contributions. While urging people to assume that Social Security will not form the lion's share of their retirement income, John F. Wasik, author of The Late-Start Investor: The Better-Late-Than-Never Guide to Realizing Your Retirement Dreams (Henry Holt, $14.95, 0805055029), makes interesting points that should serve to dispel the worst doom and gloom about the future of Social Security.

Wasik writes: Why does anyone in Washington think the 77-million-strong baby boom generation will want less from these programs after they worked so hard to make retirement a pleasant, more financially secure experience? If anything, given the selfishness traditionally ascribed to the me generation, they will want more out of retirement programs, not less. And as this generation gains power in politics, you will see a huge decrease in the political ill will toward big government programs. Wasik, special projects editor for Consumers Digest magazine, provides a balanced, common-sensical approach toward finding a New Prosperity as one approaches retirement. He urges reduced spending to increase the amount of money available for investing; an inventory to make sure you know exactly what you have and what your sources of income are; and growth-oriented investments that take advantage of any tax deferments available. Wasik goes beyond the purely financial and offers advice on how to make later life more balanced and rewarding.

As for investments, Wasik is not afraid to get specific. In a section on mutual funds, he offers recommendations for portfolios for people at different stages of life, including those with as little as five years remaining to retirement. Wasik takes the widely held view that the closer one is to retirement, the less risk he or she should carry in their investments. For those interested in their own investment decisions, Wasik offers specific individual stock recommendations.

Homeward bound Perhaps your later-in-life plans don't include a total cessation of work, but you would like to shift gears, or, at a minimum, reduce your daily commute. The trip to work doesn't get any shorter than when you work at home. It's a growing trend likely to gain even more momentum in the 21st century as technological advances allow people in more occupations to work from home. Work at Home Wisdom: A Collection of Quips, Tips, and Inspirations to Balance Work, Family, and Home by David H. Bangs, Jr., and Andi Axman (Upstart Publishing Co., $9.95, 1574101005) takes a look at the human side of at-home work. Light on the practical aspects of working at home such as tax implications and equipment needed (that's left to countless other books), the authors instead focus on how to stay sane and prosperous while going it alone. Among the salient pieces of advice offered in the book: Keep your work confined to your home office and don't let it spread around the house. That will give you a better chance at maintaining the separation between the personal and professional when both cohabit the same domicile. The authors also urge stay-at-homes to set clear guidelines with those they live with about when they are allowed to be disturbed during working hours. (They offer: a fire, a flood, blood, and so on. ) The book is also good on ways to fight the loneliness that can plague the at-home worker. (The authors know the territory from personal experience; both are writers who run their own at-home shows.) They suggest ways to increase human contact that can also be productive for business and personal growth. Staying at home is increasingly a route to business success. Consider this fact offered by the authors: An astonishing 45 percent of the companies in the Inc. [magazine] 500 list were started in their founder's residence . . . Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. […]

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. That's because the generation whose size, influence, and self-referential world view has altered every aspect of American life is certainly not babyish anymore. (A note of disclosure: I'm a card-carrying member of the boomer group.) The boomers are now finding (often to their utter surprise) that they are all grown up and not fully prepared to finance and emotionally weather such important life milestones as their children's higher education and their own approaching retirement. Some new books are here to help.

The generation that keeps on ticking Don't Stop the Career Clock: Rejecting the Myths of Aging for a New Way to Work in the 21st Century by Helen Harkness is a blast of optimism for 40-something boomers and those even later in life who think they are on the downhill slope. Harkness, a career counselor, successfully bursts many of the stereotypes of aging that equate the addition of years with mental and physical deterioration and a loss of value in the work world. She tells people to focus on their functional ages, not their chronological ones. At one point she writes: The greatest of all remedies for the fear of age and death is a burning desire for achievement, backed by useful service to others. Busy people seldom have time to worry about dying. Harkness spends time in this book examining medical studies that refute myths about age and links to mental and physical decline. She also offers practical advice, with checklists and exercises, for people interested in a mid-life career switch or a chance to go into business for themselves. In an interesting note on the age 65, still considered by many a magical number at which time people should close up the working portion of their lives, Harkness writes: In the 1930s, when the U.S. government was establishing the age for receiving Social Security benefits, 65 was adopted as the age for retirement. This was a time when life expectancy was around 45 and the unemployment rate was 25 percent. How mindless can this be for today's work force, with life expectancy at 78 and rising rapidly, and unemployment at its lowest level in 25 years? Finding financial security Okay, so your retirement won't be as traditional as that of your parents. Still, you'll need some extra financial security as you grow older to give you greater flexibility and allow you to slow down your work schedule if that's what you want. Don't know where to start on that complicated trail? A good place is If You're Clueless About Financial Planning and Want to Know More by Seth Godin and John Parmelee (Dearborn, $15.95, 0793129885). The book lives up to the promise inherent in its title in that it doesn't assume much prior knowledge and does provide good basic instruction. The range of subjects is quite wide, from different types of stock and bond investments to life insurance to college financial aid and more. Given the subject range, none of the topics gets in-depth treatment, but there are many referrals about where to find more information in other books and via the Internet.

Retiring comfortably It's become an accepted axiom that people retiring in the next quarter-century will need a lot more than Social Security payments to comfortably support themselves. The demographic swell of boomers hitting retirement age around the year 2015 will put unprecedented pressure on the Social Security system. Debate is already under way in Washington, D.C., about ways to save or reform the system. Meanwhile, surveys of younger people reveal deep skepticism about what will be left for them when they reach retirement age, despite lifetimes of contributions. While urging people to assume that Social Security will not form the lion's share of their retirement income, John F. Wasik, author of The Late-Start Investor: The Better-Late-Than-Never Guide to Realizing Your Retirement Dreams (Henry Holt, $14.95, 0805055029), makes interesting points that should serve to dispel the worst doom and gloom about the future of Social Security.

Wasik writes: Why does anyone in Washington think the 77-million-strong baby boom generation will want less from these programs after they worked so hard to make retirement a pleasant, more financially secure experience? If anything, given the selfishness traditionally ascribed to the me generation, they will want more out of retirement programs, not less. And as this generation gains power in politics, you will see a huge decrease in the political ill will toward big government programs. Wasik, special projects editor for Consumers Digest magazine, provides a balanced, common-sensical approach toward finding a New Prosperity as one approaches retirement. He urges reduced spending to increase the amount of money available for investing; an inventory to make sure you know exactly what you have and what your sources of income are; and growth-oriented investments that take advantage of any tax deferments available. Wasik goes beyond the purely financial and offers advice on how to make later life more balanced and rewarding.

As for investments, Wasik is not afraid to get specific. In a section on mutual funds, he offers recommendations for portfolios for people at different stages of life, including those with as little as five years remaining to retirement. Wasik takes the widely held view that the closer one is to retirement, the less risk he or she should carry in their investments. For those interested in their own investment decisions, Wasik offers specific individual stock recommendations.

Homeward bound Perhaps your later-in-life plans don't include a total cessation of work, but you would like to shift gears, or, at a minimum, reduce your daily commute. The trip to work doesn't get any shorter than when you work at home. It's a growing trend likely to gain even more momentum in the 21st century as technological advances allow people in more occupations to work from home. Work at Home Wisdom: A Collection of Quips, Tips, and Inspirations to Balance Work, Family, and Home by David H. Bangs, Jr., and Andi Axman (Upstart Publishing Co., $9.95, 1574101005) takes a look at the human side of at-home work. Light on the practical aspects of working at home such as tax implications and equipment needed (that's left to countless other books), the authors instead focus on how to stay sane and prosperous while going it alone. Among the salient pieces of advice offered in the book: Keep your work confined to your home office and don't let it spread around the house. That will give you a better chance at maintaining the separation between the personal and professional when both cohabit the same domicile. The authors also urge stay-at-homes to set clear guidelines with those they live with about when they are allowed to be disturbed during working hours. (They offer: a fire, a flood, blood, and so on. ) The book is also good on ways to fight the loneliness that can plague the at-home worker. (The authors know the territory from personal experience; both are writers who run their own at-home shows.) They suggest ways to increase human contact that can also be productive for business and personal growth. Staying at home is increasingly a route to business success. Consider this fact offered by the authors: An astonishing 45 percent of the companies in the Inc. [magazine] 500 list were started in their founder's residence . . . Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

Books for grown-up baby boomers If you've been watching closely, you've noticed that members of the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are often now simply called boomers rather than the more formal baby boomers, as they used to be known. Sure, the simple boomers is snappier and hipper-sounding. It's also a lot more accurate. […]

As the free market economic machine ascends ever higher, through the rubble of Communism and the default of Russia, despite the Asian financial crisis and in the face of the Internet craze, we approach a crossroads. The big question can be boiled down to this: Are we on the right path? Is an ever more open market economy, based on the American model, the proper road toward world prosperity and even human happiness? Or are we headed for corporate domination, enfeebled national governments, and the easy exploitation of the planet's workers and resources? It's amazing how differently the same set of circumstances can be interpreted. It all depends on who you talk to, or, in this case, what you read.

Two new books nicely represent vastly divergent views on where we should be economically headed. We'll start with a book that wants us to do what we're now doing, only more so. In The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict over Creativity, Enterprise and Progress, author Virginia Postrel argues essentially that the less we try to control and limit the economy, the more it will bring us. The incentives, flexibility, and serendipity of an open society and economy will allow individual genius and innovation to bring us consistent material gains. To hijack a phrase often heard during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Ms. Postrel, editor of Reason magazine, would let the economy be the economy.

This is an excellent book. It is clearly written, well argued, and broadly sourced. It is a dynamist manifesto that makes the case for letting people, each in his or her own way, invent the future for themselves. No grand plan, and as few limits as possible on technology. Sure there will be failures and bad ideas, but the struggle will allow the right ones to win out. And they likely will be the unexpected ones. Who, for instance, predicted the Internet? The dynamist view is that a freewheeling human-dominated future holds the best chance to create broad-based prosperity and find cures for diseases. Postrel's description of how economic freedom helped the development of eyeglasses and then ever more convenient versions of contact lenses is quite telling.

Her optimism is captured in this passage: Progress does not mean that everyone will be better off in every respect. But under ordinary circumstances, for the random individual, life in a dynamist society tomorrow will be better, on the whole, than life today. David C. Korten doesn't see things the same way at all. In The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, Korten, who taught at Harvard University and who spent decades as a development consultant in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, tells us why he thinks we are on a very wrong road. To his way of thinking, we are not even in a free market at all. He writes: "For those of us who grew up believing that capitalism is the foundation of democracy and market freedom, it has been a rude awakening to realize that under capitalism, democracy is for sale to the highest bidder and the market is centrally planned by global megacorporations larger than most states." In this latest book, Korten, who also authored When Corporations Rule the World, argues that we have gotten to the point where we have substituted money for life itself. He argues here, among other things, for stakeholder (rather than shareholder) control of companies. Those stakeholders include workers, managers, suppliers, customers, and members of the community where a company is based. Korten's plea is to bring economics back to a human scale and to infuse lives with more than material concerns.

We now journey from broad visions of the future to practical stock investing in the present tense. First, there's the newest offering from the brothers Gardner, David and Tom. They are better known as the founders of The Motley Fool, the popular finance and investing Web site that's now branched into a multi-media enterprise. With two top-selling books for the individual investor already under their belts, the Gardners are back with a third. Their reputation for clever writing and clear explanations remains intact. The new book, The Motley Fool's Rule Breakers, Rule Makers, is about picking stocks.

Plenty of financial services professionals will warn investors away from picking individual stocks, arguing that the broad diversity and professional management available through buying mutual funds is the better course. The Gardners beg to differ. They write: Our thesis for this entire book is that individuals will, on average, spend less time worrying about money, have greater control over their destiny, and substantially improve their results, if they choose common stocks over mutual funds. In addition to being no friends of mutual funds or stockbrokers, the authors don't think much of the financial press. In fact, while spelling out the criteria for rule breaking stocks, those securities likely to outpace the market, they say that discovering that the financial media thinks a stock is grossly overvalued is a good reason to like that very stock. For a stock to merit rule breaker status it must, among other things, be on top and a first mover in an important, emerging industry; it must have a sustainable business advantage; strong past price appreciation; smart management and good backing; and strong consumer appeal. Traditional measures of stock valuation don't fit into this admittedly more-art-than-science approach.

The second half of the book is devoted to identifying rule makers. Those are the companies that essentially have graduated (not all do) from rule breaker status to now dominate their respective industries. Numerical evaluations play a larger role here. Among the numbers the authors advocate you peruse to identify the true rule makers are net margins and gross margins and cash-to-debt ratios. Also, the authors write, these winning companies are focused on mass markets and lock out the competition by selling to the world's daily habits, generating enormous cash flows, believing that their dominance will only come over the long haul, and fairly representing their progress to shareholders. The Gardners offer plenty of examples of flesh-and-blood companies for both categories.

Technology stocks of all types have been high fliers of late. Every Investor's Guide to High-Tech Stocks and Mutual Funds, Second Edition by Michael Murphy is a thorough and thoughtful guide to every aspect of the technology phenomenon. Yes, there's a separate chapter on Internet stocks. Mr. Murphy is the editor of the California Technology Stock Letter and has been an observer of the technology scene for nearly two decades. He makes a strong case for how technology is taking over the economy (strong research and development coupled with falling prices). He also notes that despite all the attention nominally paid to technology, Wall Street professionals still spend a disproportionate amount of time analyzing traditional industries. In addition to doing a good job explaining the various sectors of technology and medical technology, Mr. Murphy offers specifics on investment techniques, individual stocks, and mutual funds.

Ah, youth. Just getting started in the business world? Wondering how to start? Here's a sampling of new books to get you going. There's Reality 101: Practical Advice on Entering and Succeeding in the Real World (Simon ∧ Schuster, $12, 0684846527) by Fran Katzanek. There's also Knock 'Em Dead 1999 (Adams Media Corp., $12.95, 1580620701) by Martin Yate, which boasts great answers to over 200 tough interview questions. And The Future Ain't What It Used to Be: The 40 Cultural Trends Transforming Your Job, Your Life, Your World (Riverhead Books, $14.95, 1573227188) by Mary Meehan, Larry Samuel, and Vickie Abrahamson. And a success story, The CDNow Story: Rags to Riches on the Internet (Top Floor Publishing, $19.95, 0966103262) by Jason Olim, with Matthew Olim and Peter Kent. The cover says it tells how two kids in a basement grabbed the online music business.

Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

As the free market economic machine ascends ever higher, through the rubble of Communism and the default of Russia, despite the Asian financial crisis and in the face of the Internet craze, we approach a crossroads. The big question can be boiled down to this: Are we on the right path? Is an ever more […]

The psychology of money and work Twenty years ago, personal finance writer Andrew Tobias produced a best-selling book with a boastful title. It was called The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. Rather than scare away the competition with that all-encompassing name, the book's huge success may have helped spark what's become a growth industry unto itself: the avalanche of books intended to provide care and feeding to the emboldened individual investor. In 1978, very few people actively controlled their own investments, from automated payroll savings to retirement accounts. In 1978, there was no CNBC, no Internet stock trading, not even any Internet stocks to trade. In 1978, the mutual fund industry was a fraction of its current size. Given the enormous change that's engulfed the world of personal finance, Mr. Tobias decided it was time to return to his original theme. So we have The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need: Expanded and Updated Throughout (Harvest Books, $13, 0156005603). As for the compelling title, Mr. Tobias says it was his publisher's idea, and he agreed in a weak moment. He notes that there are other good investment guides around (and many poor ones), but accurately adds: . . . reading three good investment guides instead of one will surely not triple, and probably not even improve, your investment results. So how does Mr. Tobias's one-stop shopping site for investors hold up? Quite well. The author is a knowledgeable guide and a gifted writer. The book is a pleasure to read, which is important since so many people regard reading about investment options as an unpleasant if important chore. He covers most of the waterfront, and he is forthright in his opinions. For example, he doesn't think much of investing in commodities or gold. On commodities, he writes: It is a fact that 90% or more of the people who play the commodities game get burned. I submit that you have now read all that you need ever read about commodities. On gold he offers, Gold itself pays no interest and costs money to insure. It is a hedge against inflation, all right, and a handy way to buy passage to Liechtenstein, or wherever it is we're all supposed to flee to when the much ballyhooed collapse finally materializes. But if you're looking for an inflation hedge, you might do better with stocks or real estate. Mr. Tobias is particularly strong in an area many people wouldn't consider the province of an investment guide: frugality. Simply stated, spending less of your income is a great savings and investment strategy. Given effective tax rates, keeping an after-tax dollar in your pocket rather than in some merchant's cash register is probably the equivalent of going out and earning two dollars before taxes. The author advises buying in bulk and hard bargaining on big purchases. He takes the reader through the pros and cons of most investment options in an engaging, common sense manner.

Every investor is different, of course. Mr. Tobias, for one, describes himself as rather chickenhearted. People should take on levels of risk that are not only appropriate for their income, goals, and stage of life, but also in line with their psychological ability to withstand risk. In other words, you want your investments to allow you to sleep at night.

Despite our differences, there are some psychological foibles most of us share when it comes to thinking about money. That's the subject of a fascinating new book, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them (Simon ∧ Schuster, $23, 0684844931) by Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich. The authors (Belsky is a journalist who wrote for Money magazine for seven years; Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University) take us into the world of psychoeconomic theory, which explains how widespread human behavior patterns have an adverse impact on our pocketbooks.

Take the concept of mental accounting, which deals with how we categorize money and treat it differently depending on its source. For example, we more easily fritter away money that was won at the racetrack the night before than we would rashly spend the contents of our hard-earned paychecks. Like other ideas of psychoeconomic theory, the various aspects of mental accounting are presented here through hypothetical scenarios in which readers can participate. This fun approach makes the issues at hand easy to identify with and clear. The bottom line solution to the mental accounting problem is this: Make sure you treat each dollar in your possession equally, no matter whence it came. This popularization of the work of psychologists hits on many interesting issues, including the fact that losses hurt more than gains please. That makes a lot of people more risk averse in their investment decisions than rational investigation would likely lead them to be. And then there's the sobering fact that most of us are not as smart or as savvy as we imagine. The authors write: . . . for almost as long as psychologists have been exploring human nature, they have been amassing evidence that people tend to overestimate their own abilities, knowledge, and skills . . . in financial matters the tendency to place too much stock in what you know, or what you think you know, can cost you dearly. For most of these interesting tendencies, knowledge that they exist can help you fight them. The authors of this well-researched and clearly written book also offer specific remedies for the financial aspects of these psychological peccadilloes.

Psychology doesn't abandon us once we put away the bills or monthly investment statements; it accompanies us to work (and everywhere else, for that matter). The ability to cooperate, collaborate, and even inspire our colleagues is a crucial factor in our own personal success as well as in the prosperity of our employer. In 1995, Daniel Goleman wrote a bestseller called Emotional Intelligence, which challenged the dominance of the IQ in measuring smarts. Now he's taken those concepts to work in Working with Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, $25.95, 0553104624; Audio Renaissance, abridged, $16.95, 1559275154; unabridged, $39.95, 1559275162). Goleman received a doctorate from Harvard University and spent a dozen years covering behavioral and brain sciences for the New York Times. His essential message is an upbeat one: Those qualities that in an earlier time might have been labeled character or made one considered a good person are also the qualities that should help us get ahead at work.

There's more good news. Your fate isn't determined by some stagnant measure of your intelligence; you can improve on your emotional intelligence at any stage of life. In today's work world, hierarchies have been flattened and the success of team work often depends on people's ability to get along. Emotional intelligence has never been more important.

In readable detail, based on research and corporate profiles, Goleman lays out the personal competencies of emotional intelligence, which include self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation, as well as social competencies, such as empathy and social skills. (Each category has more specific sub-categories.) This is an important and helpful book.

The changes in the American workplace in the past couple of decades haven't all taken place within our heads. One seismic change has been the vastly expanded role of women in the work force, both in terms of number and influence. That change is the subject of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America by Matt Towery. For a book about the growing strength of women in business, entertainment, and politics, as well as their dominant place as consumers and voters, the title strikes one as a tad irreverent. Mr. Towery, a former Georgia state legislator, says, however, that many influential women have willingly and proudly accepted the new term. As for why a man wrote this book, the author cites an old newspaper adage, to wit, You don't have to die to be qualified to write obituaries. Mr. Towery has produced a glowing testament to women in a host of industries who have made it to the top or near top. Through numerous interviews, they tell of their motivations and of obstacles overcome. Among the many interesting points made are that corporate inflexibility might partly be behind the surge in female entrepreneurship and the description of a social phenomena he calls the female bachelor. This describes high-income, high-status single women with lots of disposable income who don't feel pressured to marry.

Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.

The psychology of money and work Twenty years ago, personal finance writer Andrew Tobias produced a best-selling book with a boastful title. It was called The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. Rather than scare away the competition with that all-encompassing name, the book's huge success may have helped spark what's become a growth industry […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!