Jewish World Review March 21, 2003 / 17 Adar II, 5763

Barry Lank

Barry Lank
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Consumer Reports

Let me manage your money. How bad could I be? | Welcome to the Barry Lank Financial Management Newsletter. One of the steadiest and most reliable sources for stock tips, this newsletter was founded last Thursday when I, Barry Lank - the founder and visionary behind the Barry Lank newsletter - bought stationery with believable-looking letterhead and moved out of my parents' place.

Many people ask what qualifies me to give advice about money. Many people. Many, many, many, many, many people ask me this, especially after they've seen how I live.

But whenever they ask that, I pull my bathrobe a little tighter around me, sit back on the milk crates that I use for furniture and point out that when the market gets this flat and none of the stocks are going anywhere, everyone's advice is pretty much equal. Even the most wild-eyed speculators in the stock market are saying, "If you have any money, for godsakes don't do anything with it! Don't even look at it! I'll be right over!"

I, on the other hand, am optimistic. And the reason I am optimistic is that I don't have any recent newspapers in my house. The most current financial journal I've read is from 1998, and it says we've discovered something called "The New Economy." The stock market will never go down again. It can't. Isn't that great?

So let me start by answering a few questions from my readers:

"What is `buying on margin,' and how can I get involved with it?"

Let me answer that question by asking you another: Why don't you just take all your money on a hot-air balloon ride instead and dump it somewhere over the Atlantic?

"What are bonds?"

I could explain what those are. So could a lot of people. But I've got to tell you, bonds are ... they're something a girl would buy. A "chick" investment. Don't get me wrong. They're profitable. But if you're a guy, do you really want a "girlie" portfolio? That's all I'm saying.

"What are stocks?"

When I own a stock, I actually own a little piece of a company. What happens when a company makes a profit? Why, I make a profit. What happens when a company does not make a profit? Holy cow, I could lose everything! Where's my broker?!

"What is ... that?"

I save money by bottling my own soda out of what people leave in their glasses at airport bars. Want some?

"Dear Barry Lank Financial Management Newsletter: I have $50,000 just sitting around in my house. My initial plan for the money was to walk around in a bus station with money spilling out of my pockets while I yell `I have $50,000! Look at meeeee!' But a friend told me it might be a slightly better idea to invest it - though possibly not.

"How should I manage this money?"

In the current market, there are only three sure-fire ways to preserve or increase your money. The first is to invest in a company that makes toast. People love toast.

The second is to hide all your money in a broken dishwasher and post yourself on your front porch with a shotgun loaded with rock salt.

The third thing to do is to find an active financial market. The most realistic way to find an active market right now is put your money in a briefcase and run around and around the earth so fast that you go back in time.

In closing, let me summarize the overall situation. Stocks are reaching or nearing record lows every day. Precious metals are already more than you can afford. With interest rates where they are, a savings account will grow at about the same rate as igneous rock. Warren Buffett is considered an investment genius again because his core holdings declined only 2 percent last year, while everyone else's (Standard & Poor's 500) dropped 23 percent. Everything is dropping, including retail prices.

So although I don't know any more about money now than I did in high school, that's actually appropriate; at the moment, the best investment really is to buy the world's most b-tchin' stereo.

JWR contributor Barry Lank is an editorial writer and humor columnist based at the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, NJ. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Barry Lank