Case in point would be the May 2007 issue of Kiplingers. I've taken the liberty to scan the cover and display it at the right.
Sure, there's the nice all-caps headline of "TRIPLE YOUR MONEY" right smack in the middle of the page. I hate crap like that, and I hate it with every ounce of my being. Seriously. Such overhyped, ridiculous prose graces these mag covers most every month, and I'm damn sure not the first blogger to notice.
But wait. What's even worse is the caption for the dashing, grinning, and attractively-airbrushed couple we're shown: SHANNON and DARREN POLLACK invested in gold and small-company funds, and saw their money triple. (Notice the shiny gold bars right above the caption, stacked ever so quaintly on the table. Five bucks says there's chocolate inside those wrappers.)
Journalistic wind-ups like these are maddening to me ... but also interesting. If readers like me could easily "triple our money" with the info that Kiplinger's so kindly bestows upon us, then this magazine wouldn't be collecting dust on newsstands for the lowly price of $3.50, now, would it? There'd be outrageous demand for the thing, and Kiplinger Washington Editors wouldn't be able to keep up, and their printing presses would probably go into some sort of nuclear meltdown — at least until they get tired and shut the place down and decide to just go out for some nice frozen custard.
But ... they don't. And the reason is that what you'll typically find when you read the TRIPLE YOUR MONEY articles is either (1) common-sense investing stuff, with important performance data conveniently scrubbed from the headlines, or (2) stories of nicely-presented Middle Class Folks and how they just flat-out got lucky in some market, somewhere (though you'll never hear it described that way). All of which makes me glad I paid next-to-nothing for my long-term subscription to Kiplinger's. Because that's what pap like this is worth.
Anyhow, this particular article would fall into Category 1 above, as we discover merely by reading the article's subtitle: 25 ways to earn 200% over five, eight, ten, 15 or 20 years. It's easier than you think.
Really? You don't say!
Ah, well. The Pollacks' investment aptitude may or may not be noteworthy. They tripled some of their investments over the course of the last five to ten years. I mean, I give kudos to them. Really I do. But let's check in on their mirror-images in investing, the Dipflatchets:
Joe and Jane Dipflatchet invested in Nigerian-cardboard manufacturers and over-leveraged multinationals, and saw the last of their retirement savings decimated.
Of course, you'll never see the Dipflatchets on the cover of Kiplinger's ... at least not until I take over the publishing reins. Unlike the editors at Kiplinger's now, I'd just be upfront and realistic. And, of course, I'd sell fewer copies than KPF already does. But still ... Dipflatchet happens, too. Every day.
The way I see it, headline hype has had its time in the financial sun. Misery and bad fortune need a glossy showcase, too.
Just to balance. Things. Out.
Labels: Odd 'n' Fun