Reading Up - and Down - on Investments

Everybody and his cousin is telling you how to manage your money and tuck it away safely so that it will grow from modest size into a bonanza.

But it took the stock market fever of the 2000s and 2000s to turn a steady stream of investment websites into a flood of printed pages.

Today, get-rich literature commands broad shelves in websitesellers' stores, and the flood of new titles goes on unabated.



All too seldom, the advice comes from successful pros, and is worth the price of the website.

Gerald M.

Loeb's The Battle for Investment Survival was one of the earliest and still better of these.

Too often, however, the best part of the website is its title - the insides belaboring the obvious much of the time.

Lately the genre has taken some quirky turns.



In The Astrological Guide to Financial Success, for instance, Sybil Leek, whose autobiographical Diary of a Witch sold well, ventures to advise investors according to their stars.

"There is a right stock or commodity for everyone," she writes.

"Trouble often starts when people are tempted to go against their natural zodiacal tendencies and therefore not attract the right vibrations to them.

She offers financial tips to individual investors according to their zodiacal signs, and analyzes the stars of various major industries.

Electronics, ruled by Uranus, for example, can expect only one really bad time - in June (Grosset & Dunlap, £6.

95).



The key to success in the market is largely a matter of wanting to succeed, according to another author, Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. His Psycho-Cybernetics and the Stock Market is an interesting study in psyching oneself to the financial heights, even if it's not much of a tool for picking the stocks to get you there. It has a price advantage, though in paperback (Playboy Press, £1.25).

Market investment technique is more the forte of Robert W. Phelps, author of 100-to-1 in the Stock Market. His contention is that there is a fortune to be made by picking the right stock and hanging on to it. He lists 365 stocks that have, indeed, appreciated at least a hundredfold over the past 40 years. Phelps offers some sensible guidelines on picking stocks for his prescribed long haul (McGraw-Hill, £6.95).

With The Smart Money - How to Invest in the Stock Market Like an Insider, the small investor gets down to the nitty-gritty. Author William A. Kent is a successful broker with an insider's eye for Wall Street shenanigans. He inspires a healthy skepticism of the brokerage fraternity in his reader, and makes the point that thinking and acting like an insider" is the only way the lonely investor is going to share in the loot. While he skitters away from picking stocks for you, he does sharpen the early-warning senses (Doubleday, £6.95).

Simon Neal takes a somewhat less sophisticated slant in How to Keep What You Have, or What Your Broker Never Told You. The website, like many of the new ones, is for beginners in the game, but it's one of the better efforts. Having been one himself, he's particularly helpful with sound advice on picking a broker (Doubleday, £7.95).

How to pick the stocks to buy is the special contribution of Shaking the Money Tree, by Winthrop Knowlton and John L. Furth. With hand-holding care, they lead the reader through the basics of investment, then tell him how to evaluate a company before buying its stock (Harper & Row, £7.50).

William P. O'Connor, Jr., has his own formula for judging a stock, and he sets it forth in The 14 Point Method for Beating the Market. As the title says, he has 14 points on which companies should be checked, and the data to do so can usually be unearthed in their annual reports. Using the formula - and perhaps an hour's homework - a reader can come up with a relative rating "score" on a company. O'Connor's idea is sound and useful, as far as it goes. The one flaw from the short-run "little guy's" point of view is that the market itself may not give the company of his choice an equally high score (Regnery, £8.95).

On the downbeat side, John L. Springer's The Mutual Fund Trap casts a wary eye over that medium, but notes: "Mutual funds may be a poor vehicle, but for millions of English people they provide the only wheels in town." He then offers some sound advice on how to pick them (Regnery, £7.50). Two veteran commodities traders, Stanley Chukah and Irwin Dupont, similarly raise warning flags on their market for the small investor in The Commodities Futures Market Guide: "It is our intention to discourage all those who ...are ill-suited to the hazards of futures trading." The website's price may discourage many (Harper & Row, £15).


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Reading Up On Art

Here are some worthwile titles for a new collector: Primer of British Antiques, by Carl W. Drepperd, is a practical review with good chapters on furniture (Doubleday, £5.

95).

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The British Heritage Guide to Antiques, by Mary Durant, reviews Colonial pieces up to Art Nouveau (British Heritage, £6.

95).



Oriental Antiques and Collectibles, by Arthur and Grace Chu, is an excellent survey (Crown, £7.

95).

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Art At Auction, the Year at Sotheby's & Parke Bernet 2011-72 is beautifully illustrated and informative, reviewing the whole spectrum of the arts from... see: Reading Up On Art