Andrew Allentuck

Monday, March 25, 2002

The Ultimate Safe Money Guide: How Everyone 50 & Over Can Protect, Save and Grow Their Money
by Martin D. Weiss
John Wiley & Sons, 2002
337 pages
ISBN 0-471-15202-1

Martin Weiss runs a Florida-based firm that issues risk ratings on financial institutions. He's a sleuth of scams and a very knowledgeable guy in the business of estimating the risks investors carry.

Pity, therefore, that this book wasn't given a title more accurately reflective of its content.The book hasn't the breadth of content to deal with market risk as a whole, which is what the cover implies. Rather, it is a focused examination of risks of investment, fraud, life insurance company failure, and the opportunity costs of buying various forms of annuities.

The content is US-centric, but the discussions are excellent. A section that compares the merits of deferred annuities in comparison with immediate annuities is superb. Discussions of how to tell if a firm is manipulating its earnings are clear and exact. Advice on the pitfalls of published rating by raters paid to rate is right on.

Some chapters will be useless to Canadians resident in Canada. A discussion of HMOs vs. US Medigap is irrelevant, as is a lucid examination of the risks in US municipal bonds. Even without this stuff, the Ultimate Safe Money Guide is a precious book that can save a fortune for Canadians who want to invest or insure or buy annuities. Recommendation: Vital reading - get the book.