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Home / Finance / Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry 2019

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry 2019

Pound Foolish:
Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry

From Book-list
“The personal finance and investment industry is a juggernaut, a part of both the ascendant financial services sector of our economy and the ever-booming self-help arena,” states Olen, personal finance writer. Readers learn about Sylvia Porter, whom Olen describes as the “mother of the personal financial industrial complex.” Porter, by the 1960s, had a daily column in which she explained stocks, bonds, and budgeting to millions of Americans. From that beginning mushroomed financial therapy (psychotherapy, life coaching, and financial planning), which originated in the 1970s and caught substantial media attention after the 2008 financial debacle. Explaining the shortcomings of financial therapy, the author cites bias toward individual demons, errors in comparing financial problems of the rich to those of average and poor Americans, and “a dysfunctional relationship with class, specifically the lack of class mobility in a country that prides itself on the American Dream.” This thought-provoking book alerts us to important issues in today’s postrecession economy and thus will enlighten many library patrons. –Mary Whaley –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“It’s rare to come across a realistic and readable book about personal finance. Most are laden with rosy promises, followed by acronyms and turgid advice. Helaine Olen, a freelance journalist, offers an exception with Pound Foolish…. It’s a take-no-prisoners examination of the ways she says we have been scared, misled or bamboozled by those purporting to help us achieve financial security.”
—The New York Times

Olen critiques the personal finance industrial complex and makes the case that our systems and structures for achieving financial security are broken or badly damaged, and that profiteers have exploited the desire to for personal financial control and turned it into a profit center for their own benefit.

The New America Foundation’s Asset Building Program held this conversation with the author as she shares her story of America’s love affair with personal finance and the challenges we all face in dealing with and talking about money.


Helaine Olen
Author, Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry
Blogger, “Where Life Meets Money,”

Justin King
Federal Policy Liaison, Asset Building Program, New America Foundation

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