Ignore Business Insider’s Reading List: Focus Here Instead & Save Yourself.

Poor Business Insider.

No, wait! Poor you!

Most of the books on BI’s list are not going to get you where you want or need to be financially.

Not today. Not ever.

I’m not saying the books aren’t fine efforts.

What I’m saying is overall they represent a single perspective, one side of the investing coin. A philosophy that doesn’t effectively work through every stock market cycle.

The philosophy of “buy and hold” or “buy and sleep” as it’s eloquently described in one of the books on my best-of list (Cocktail Investing), is not going to help you to navigate a post-Great Recessionary period muddied by unprecedented global central bank overreach, negative rate scenarios, 8 years of below-average global economic growth and the second loftiest stock valuation levels (based on real earnings) since the tech bubble.

The advice from BI fits secular positive market periods like 1982-2000. However, through history, positive or upward cycles conclude and are ostensibly replaced by (as beautifully researched in another selection,) flat or down trending periods that work off bull excesses.

You see. Not every long-term market move is positive. On Wall Street however, every market is a bull. On Main Street, that buy-side mentality will place your household finances in jeopardy.

You must remember.

On occasion, it’s a bull-shit stampede.

As for Business Insider’s list? 


Check the bottom of your shoes before going in. It’s a perfect cycle for them to stink up the joint.

Oh there are several tomes of wisdom. I’ve read all the books listed. Took notes. I did learn from them.  I consistently read 10 books a year.

But through this market cycle, the pervasive wisdom of ‘buy and hold’ or ‘random walk’ where your portfolio trips and blows up your net worth, isn’t gonna fly.

You doubt me?

Ponder the following:

Warren Buffett repeatedly appears on BI’s list. I understand. Greatest investor of all time and all.

One problem. And it’s a big one.

It’s not realistic to think you can invest like Warren Buffett. It’s a romantic inclination. It’s what investors yearn to do but can’t.

Sure, you can prosper from an education in fundamental analysis – company cash flows, balance sheets, income statements, dividend growth, not chasing the hot investment flavors of the day. It’s called doing your homework and doing your homework is required.

In the brief period we’re given as investors, because we’re human – there’s a limited window of opportunity for appreciation. (Like 20-30 years if we’re lucky). Include the increased probability of a decade of below-average returns in stocks (our estimate is below 3%), and a set-it-and-forget-it mindset requires a wake-up call.

Now more than ever.

A new resource library.

You see, it’s close to impossible to match a human life (finite) with that of a market of stocks (infinite). Unless you’re Warren.

Think about it.

As Lance Roberts wrote recently:

“It is important to remember that we are not investors. We do not control the direction of the company, their management decisions or their sales process. We are simply speculators placing bets on the direction of the price of an electronic share that is heavily influenced by the “herd” that makes up the markets.

More importantly, we are speculating, more commonly known as gambling, with our “savings.” We are told by Wall Street that we “must” invest into the financial markets to keep those hard-earned savings adjusted for inflation over time. Unfortunately, due to repeated investment mistakes, the average individual has failed in achieving this goal.”

You don’t have a couple of hundred years like Warren Buffett who is investing not for just his lifetime, but for multiple shareholder lifetimes in Berkshire Hathaway.

So what if one of his investments doesn’t pay off for 30-50 years? He’s dealing with the luxury of that kind of time. The kind of time it takes to earn and book hefty market returns. This is not realistic for most of us. It’s a financial fairytale hawked as reality.

Thankfully, investors seem less receptive to the turd sandwiches they’ve been force fed when it comes to understanding how the stock market performs. It’s unfortunate too as this cyclical bull market we’ve enjoyed since March 2009, is one of the most despised I’ve witnessed. And I’ve been in this business for 27 years.

In part this negative sentiment is due to the continued lack of straight talk by pundits, an overhang from the pain of losses during the financial crisis (remember that?) and a painfully long (marginal at best), economic recovery.

So I share with you my library. My keepers.


A reading and learning treasure trove for the new world.

1). Investing with the Trend: A Rules-Based Approach to Money Management by Gregory L. Morris.


From Amazon: Investing with the Trend provides an abundance of evidence for adapting a rules-based approach to investing by offering something most avoid, and that is to answer the “why” one would do it this way.  It explains the need to try to participate in the good markets and avoid the bad markets, with cash being considered an asset class.  The book is in three primary sections and tries to leave no stone unturned in offering almost 40 years of experience in the markets.

Excerpt: The market from 1927-2012 was in a state of drawdown (loss of capital) for more than 95% of the time. In other words, the market was making new all-time highs less than 5 percent of the time.

Rosso’s take: Greg drags the mystical buy-and-hold unicorn behind the shed and destroys it. The book is comprehensive with data that obliterates the buy-and-hold myth and group think that has destroyed so many portfolios. You’ll be annoyed after reading this book. You’ll feel duped by a financial system that compels you to feel helpless. There’s more in control about money than you think, and this book will open your eyes -question your current portfolio management strategy.

2). Cocktail Investing: Distilling Everyday Noise into Clear Investment Signals for Better Returns by Christopher J Versace & Lenore Elle Hawkins.


Chris and Lenore focus on economics, demographics, psychographics, technology, policy and more. In other words, themes. Thematic investing. Their book allows you to tap into the flow and motivation for today’s consumer to spend and where they drop their cash.

From Amazon: Given today’s ever-increasing deluge of information, the average investor faces the challenge of sorting through the babble to decipher what it means, and learn how, where, and why they should be investing given the current economic environment and the uncertain future. This book provides an ‘off’ switch, helping readers apply an automatic mental filter to the incoming cacophony, to filter out only what they can use for smarter money moves.

Excerpt: Shifting demographics & psychographics shape and impact consumer behavior can force companies to make fundamental changes to their business to succeed. Identifying the root cause of these shifts, be they the fallout from a disruptive technology, changing consumer preference, or other pain point, helps you, the investor, identify companies that will profit from the pain as they administer their “soothing” medicine.

Rosso’s take: Talk about changing it up. How refreshing. The dynamic financial duo seek to help investors understand where demand is headed and then prosper from growing consumer trends. This book is an eye-opener if you’re investor looking to hook into the consumer mindset post-Great Recession.

3). The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth by James Altucher.


From Amazon: We are living in an epic period of change, danger and opportunity. The economy is crashing and booming every few years. People are getting fired and replaced by computers and Chinese workers. The stock market crashes with regularity. Every “fix” from the government makes things worse. The Old World has been demolished… and people are desperate for answers.

This is the field guide to the “New World” we live in. You can play by the old rules and get left behind, or you can use these new ideas and become wealthy. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Read at your own risk, because sometimes the truth is hard to take.

Excerpt: “The Save Big Rule.” Don’t save small. Save big. Big is a worthless college degree. Big is a house. Saving 10 cents on a cup of coffee is a poor man’s way to get rich. There’s a myth that “saving a dollar is the same as making a dollar.” This simply is not true. It ignores the fact that you start off with money. If you start off with $100 you can only save $100 but you can make a gazillion dollars.

Rosso’s take: James as a dear friend and mentor changed my life. He’s not mainstream but he’ll get you to step back, question everything. He’s a dogma destroyer when it comes to ideas of building wealth and healthy daily habits that seek to preserve and nurture the greatest investment: YOU.

James Altucher is the Ralph Waldo Emerson of our age. I promise you won’t regret this one. I can’t promise it won’t get you thinking. At times you’ll shake your head in resistance as James breaks down deep-set societal rules of wealth building and encourages new ones defined by passions and creativity.

4). Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller.

Princeton University Press.

From Amazon: Animal Spirits offers a road map for reversing the financial misfortunes besetting us today. Read it and learn how leaders can channel animal spirits–the powerful forces of human psychology that are afoot in the world economy today. In a new preface, they describe why our economic troubles may linger for some time–unless we are prepared to take further, decisive action.

Excerpt: The term overheated economy, as we shall use it refers to a situation in which confidence has gone beyond normal bounds, in which an increasing fraction of people have lost their normal skepticism about the economic outlook and are ready to believe stories about a new economic boom.

Rosso’s take: Markets are math in the long term. From day to day, they’re a hot mess of emotions. Markets are not rational. They’re comprised of people doing impetuous acts to grow wealth, usually at the expense of others. It’s a war between buyers and sellers with prices used as weapons. Best to understand the animal, the push-pull, the primal spirits which feed (and sometimes anger) them.

5). Active Value Investing: Making Money in Range-Bound Markets by Vitaliy N. Katsenelson.

Wiley Finance.

From Amazon: A strategy to profit when markets are range bound–which is half of the time. One of the most significant challenges facing today’s active investor is how to make money during the times when markets are going nowhere. In this book, author and respected investment portfolio manager Vitaliy Katsenelson makes a convincing case for range-bound market conditions and offers readers a practical strategy for proactive investing that improves profits.

Excerpt: For the next dozen years or so, the U.S. stock market will be a wild roller-coaster ride—setting all-time highs and multi-year lows in the process. While the twists and turns of this ride are still to be written by history, the long-term, sideways “range-bound” trajectory has already been set by the eighteen-year bull market that ended in 2000. When the dust settles, only those who adapted their investment strategies to this range-bound market will have captured any meaningful profits.

Rosso’s take: Vitaliy is a master of long-term market cycle analysis (and they’re not always bulls). If half the time, markets are range bound, why does the industry ignore them or count them as insignificant? The narrative doesn’t fit well into the industry’s pervasive “set it and forget it” approach to portfolio and risk management.

6). Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton.

Simon & Schuster.

From Amazon: Happy Money offers a tour of research on the science of spending, explaining how you can get more happiness for your money. Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton have outlined five principles—from choosing experiences over stuff to spending money on others—to guide not only individuals looking for financial security, but also companies seeking to create happier employees and provide “happier products” to their customers. Dunn and Norton show how companies from Google to Pepsi to Charmin have put these ideas into action.

Excerpt: Consumers would get more happiness bang for their ITunes buck if they forced themselves, after downloading their music, to wait – at least five minutes, better hours, and ideally days – before listening.   

Rosso’s take: Hey, you’re going to spend. Why not make the most of the experience, spend less in the process, yet gain greater satisfaction? Millennials seek experiences over stuff. How about you?

7). The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lesson’s from Japan’s Great Recession by Richard Koo.


From Amazon: The revised edition of this highly acclaimed work presents crucial lessons from Japan’s recession that could aid the US and other economies as they struggle to recover from the current financial crisis.

This book is about Japan’s long recession and how it affected current theoretical thinking about its causes and cures. It has a detailed explanation on what happened to Japan, but the discoveries made are so far-reaching that a large portion of economics literature will have to be modified to accommodate another half to the macroeconomic spectrum of possibilities that conventional theorists have overlooked.

Excerpt: Although it has never been explicitly stated in the economics literature, the efficacy of monetary policy is based on a key assumption: the existence of willing borrowers in the private sector. Monetary policy loses all power if this condition is not met.  

Rosso’s take: Sound familiar? It should. You’ve lived through 8 years of a sluggish economic recovery and monetary policy that has had very little positive effect on economic conditions. According to Bloomberg, close to 500 million people in a quarter of the world economy are now living with negative interest rates. Negative rates are a sheer act of desperation. A hallmark of how far monetary policy can be stretched, warped, morphed into ineffectiveness. And guess what? You still can’t be forced to spend. Or borrow.

Richard Koo understood the balance-sheet recession that hit the U.S. better than anyone on American soil. Those in charge still choose to ignore his sage commentary. Global leaders fell for unprecedented central bank intervention as the wholesale solution to decades-long structural economic problems. Go figure.

8). Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy.


From Amazon: In this counterintuitive and insightful work, author Frank Partnoy weaves together findings from hundreds of scientific studies and interviews with wide-ranging experts to craft a picture of effective decision-making that runs counter to our brutally fast-paced world. Even as technology exerts new pressures to speed up our lives, it turns out that the choices we make––unconsciously and consciously, in time frames varying from milliseconds to years––benefit profoundly from delay.

Excerpt: An expert generally won’t need to delay a decision, but a novice generally should delay, as much as possible. The toughest part of the expert-novice distinction is that we can be experts in an area, with years of seemingly relevant experience, but then be confronted in the same area with a new twist on a decision that turns us into a novice. Not very many experts will admit, or even see, when they are novices.

Rosso’s take: Granted, a bit off topic. Or is it? Investing requires patience. Well, at least for those who follow a discipline, buy and sell rules. Let’s face it: Most financial firms are going to toss cash into the wind of the market because, well, it’s Wednesday and your account has cash in it. Little regard for current valuations. After all, you can’t time the market. Or is that just a convenient, overplayed excuse because financial representatives or investment specialists or whatever you call them, have sales quotas to fill, and financial firms have shareholders to appease? Your business is now booked. You’re history. Time to move on to the next target. Here’s a suggestion: After you finish this selection, recommend it to your broker.

9). The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence by Benoit Mandelbrot.

Basic Books.

From Amazon: Mathematical superstar and inventor of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, has spent the past forty years studying the underlying mathematics of space and natural patterns. What many of his followers don’t realize is that he has also been watching patterns of market change. In The (Mis)Behavior of Markets, Mandelbrot joins with science journalist and former Wall Street Journal editor Richard L. Hudson to reveal what a fractal view of the world of finance looks like. The result is a revolutionary reevaluation of the standard tools and models of modern financial theory. Markets, we learn, are far riskier than we have wanted to believe.

Excerpt: But whether guide or master, modern portfolio theory bases everything on the conventional market assumptions that prices vary mildly, independently, and smoothly from one moment to the next. If those assumptions are wrong, everything falls apart: Rather than a carefully tuned profit engine, your portfolio may actually be a dangerous, careering rattletrap.

Rosso’s take: Frankly, I don’t know where I would be without the work of Mandelbrot. He’s the reason I stopped drinking the financial services industry’s Kool-Aid. This selection is always within my reach. I refer to it often. Backed by rigorous analysis, Mandelbrot unwinds and exposes how markets flow (think gusts of wind). His work adds tremendous relevance to the field and exposes the underbelly of markets you’ll never hear discussed at major brokerage firms.

10). Irrational Exuberance 3rd Edition by Robert J Shiller.

Princeton University Press.

From Amazon: In this revised, updated, and expanded edition of his New York Times bestseller, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, who warned of both the tech and housing bubbles, cautions that signs of irrational exuberance among investors have only increased since the 2008-9 financial crisis. With high stock and bond prices and the rising cost of housing, the post-subprime boom may well turn out to be another illustration of Shiller’s influential argument that psychologically driven volatility is an inherent characteristic of all asset markets.

Excerpt: The efficient markets theory has been a fixture in university economics and finance departments ever since the 1970s. The theory has commonly been offered to justify what seem to be elevated market valuations, such as the 1929 stock market peak.

Rosso’s take: In September 2007, I asked many of the ‘experts’ at my former employer if stock prices were dangerously overvalued per Bob Shiller’s Irrational Exuberance. Naturally, I was told “no.” Bob Shiller tends to be early but always correct. Professor Shiller’s work is a haunting reminder of how hefty stock market valuations ostensibly correct and take your investments along for the plunge. Only to leave you spending the rest of your investing life attempting to break even. That’s not how the money management process is supposed to work.

Coming soon (available for pre-order):

11). Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America by Danielle DiMartino Booth.


From Amazon: The culture at the Fed–and its leadership–were not just ignorant of the brewing financial crisis, but indifferent to its very possibility. They interpreted their job of keeping the economy going to mean keeping Wall Street afloat at the expense of the American taxpayer. But bad Fed policy created unaffordable housing, skewed incentives, rampant corporate financial engineering, stagnant wages, an exodus from the labor force, and skyrocketing student debt. Booth observed firsthand how the Fed abdicated its responsibility to the American people both before and after the financial crisis–and how nobody within the Fed seems to have learned or changed from the experience.

Rosso’s take: As the books is slated for release in February 2017, I do not have an excerpt to share. However, I couldn’t wait to pre-order. Danielle was inside the Dallas Fed, but she also maintained an “outsider looking in,” perspective that is crucial for the masses to understand.

A keen observer of how disconnected the Fed truly was during the financial crisis and remains distant from structural deficiencies that still inflict Main Street household balance sheets today, Danielle has a mission to expose the Fed and their economists for what they are: Clueless.

A frequent national media commentator and guest of our Lance Roberts’ radio show, Danielle is razor-blade sharp, passionate and a voice of truth. We’re fortunate as a society she decided to take on the mission to share her observations of the inner workings of the Fed.

The goal of my feverish reading habit is to immerse in the journey of financial wizardly less practiced by the frontline sales-driven asset allocators located at every Charles Schwab or Merrill Lynch retail outlet across the country.

Candidly, there’s enough mainstream financial ‘educational’ material available to lavishly adorn every waste dump on the planet. The written, glossy garbage stinks worse than dead fish full exposed to a west Texas August high noon.

Don’t be fooled.

It’s time to shake up your knowledge base.

I’m honored to assist you on your path.

And help you to question the rotted words of the masses.

Side note: I have learned the rhythm of markets by reading fiction. James Altucher advised me it would be so. After all, the price of a stock is what a willing buyer and seller agree to, the future growth  potential of an underlying business, and educated guesses (a guess is a guess is a guess,) of price trends.

In addition, with the overwhelming response of global central banks over the last 8 years to keep rates low (or negative) investors have taken increased risk to reach for return, especially yield as witnessed in the dazzling positive performance of telecom and utility stocks. Thus, stock prices for dividend stocks and stocks in general, are now extended from underlying businesses fundamentals.

For now, price discovery is overwhelmed by monetary policy response and momentum trades rule the day. In essence, price is built on story and story is fiction (at least in my opinion).

Sooner or later, this overvalued condition painfully corrects which makes my reading suggestions for you more important than a list of quixotic words and adages of old.

Be careful out there..

Funeral Man: Read the Books, Live the Words.

“Readin’ up a storm out here alone.”

Funeral man would lament. In the heat of summer, in the shade of a deep carpeted entrance to one of the fanciest funeral parlors in Brooklyn. A pile of dust. Inside the dust storm, a stack of books ranging from real classics like “Moby Dick” to hip then now-classics like “The Joy of Sex”, he’d read. Sit there for hours and read. Share thoughts. I always wondered how someone who smelled like dead body was optimistic enough to read about the joy of sex.

homeless readaer

Every day. All day.

In the heat.

From a white-granite ornate bench. A rest stop for the grieving (now reading).

Funeral man in his Rolling Stones ’77 concert tee, fascinated me for several summers. Inspired my love of books and printed words. He’d show up in June, be gone in September. For years I sat with him, listened as he read. Didn’t sit too close though. The musky odor of moldy page and person mixed with New York heat was occasionally too much.

“Buy two books. One read. One save. One book perfect. One book messy.”

It made my parents, (especially dad) insane when I asked him for money for the school book fair.

“Why in hell does he need so much money for books? And then he buys two of the same %)@))@#_@ damn book, too? What a  f***ing retard!”

Funeral Man was correct. I learned to hate cracking the binder of a new book, bending a page, messing up the cover of a new paperback. I was obsessed/distressed. Even with “one book messy.” It didn’t sit kindly with me to be “one book messy.” I did it. I read the book. But it stressed me out, regardless.

For a few 1970s summers I stayed. Near the dead. As Funeral Man espoused the benefits of reading, I listened closely.

And learned.

Random Thoughts:

1). Be open to messages from teachers. Teachers come from all areas of life. There doesn’t exist income or social criteria for those who provide lessons. I work backwards. In other words, I consider everyone who crosses my path a teacher, a provider of lessons, until they prove otherwise, or I feel I’m done with the lessons because on occasion, the learning is indeed required and appreciated, but the lessons are mentally painful. I choose not to continue.

2). There are times you will need to be brutally honest, insane, stand out, to communicate your point of view. When my last employer decided to throw ethics out the window and treat clients improperly just to make me look bad, I spoke out to my detriment. It’s ok. I have faith that in the end, it all works out when you stand for the greater good. Don’t sell out, stand out. Long term, you’ll be wiser. I’m learning we are a nation of sell outs. Life appears much easier that way. I see the beauty in it but I’m not going there. Funeral Man wasn’t a sell out (perhaps that’s why he smelled so bad). 

3). You are what you read. If you read garbage, you’ll think garbage and never challenge your mind. Pick up a subject outside your comfort zone. Fiction is fine, Fifty Shades of Foot Fetish is acceptable too, just make sure you throw in substance on occasion. Politics will muddy your thinking because there’s always a hidden agenda (so it’s garbage). Re-discover a classic. Funeral man was partial to Hemingway and Kerouac.

4). Grill your financial adviser. Ask him or her what books made an impact and why. Ask how many books are read in a year. You may be surprised at the responses. Understanding what your financial advisers read may provide a clue to their passions and interests for further discussion.

The summer of ’77, I threw Funeral Man a book curve ball. While reading near the foot of the master, a  self-improvement book he recommended, I looked to him and said:

“You know, you read some great stuff. Why can’t you live the words?”

He was clearly hurt. I mean with all this knowledge, why hadn’t he done more with his life?

What words will you read today and really take to heart?

Will sentences change your perspective, motivate you?

Words change me.

So do the lessons learned.

Funeral Man died in 1979.

I attended the service. Room B. Inside plush further inside plush of his favorite death parlor.

I didn’t recognize him at first: I thought it was a mix up. All cleaned up. Hair neat. His name was Sam. He wore a military uniform. With multiple medals hanging from his chest.

I truly felt bad for what I said.

Funeral Man was indeed a man of lessons.

He did live words. His truth. Obviously, it was just enough to drive him insane.

I ran four blocks home for my copy of “The Sun Also Rises.”

It was buried with Funeral Man a long time ago.

Not a cover was bent.

One book perfect.

One book saved.

Like a life not lived.

But not you, Sam.

You live on.

ripped dirty book