Archive for August, 2009

Book Review: Madoff by Peter Sander

August 17, 2009

[Front Cover of Madoff by Peter Sander]

The Bernard Madoff scandal is still unfolding — just the other day Madoff’s CFO (aka Chief Fraud Officer), Frank DiPascali plead guilty and, unlike his boss, offered to fully co-operate with authorities. He has already revealed key details of how the $50 billion fraud was perpetrated and speculation is mounting on who else Mr. DiPascali might finger. Perhaps befitting the size of the pyramid scheme, the length of time it went undetected, the star-studded victim list and the global scale of the scandal, you can expect an avalanche of titles to hit the shelves. Already, Madoff with Money by Jerry Oppenheimer (the Wall Street Journal recently carried an excerpt) is available. And the media is breathlessly reporting on the alleged affair between Madoff and the author of Madoff’s Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me, due to be published later this month (I wonder why anyone would want to admit to an affair with Madoff, let alone write a book about it but that’s neither here nor there).

Peter Sander, the author of Madoff: Corruption, Deceit and the Making of the World’s Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme was probably hoping to beat the rush and hit the shelves with one of the first books on the subject. It is evident that the book was quickly put together: each chapter contains a hodgepodge of interesting facts and trivia, liberally interspersed with material lifted ad verbatim from other sources. The book could do with several rewrites and better editing. If you want to read one book on the Madoff scandal, unfortunately, this is not it. It is a pity really because the subject matter is so fascinating. If you do happen to lay your hands on a copy, you might find Chapter 9 titled The Psychology of Trust, which discusses how some otherwise very smart individuals got suckered by Madoff, to be interesting.

The book is published by The Lyons Press and has a list price of $17.95.

Fortunately, a wealth of information is available online on Madoff: has a copy of the website of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
Whistle blower Harry Markopolos’ letter to SEC: The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud.
Mr. Markopolos testimony to Congress.
Victim impact statements filed at Madoff sentencing.

This and That: Dog days of summer edition

August 13, 2009


I’ll be participating in a live discussion on investment topics on Globe Investor on Monday, August 17, 2009 at noon. I hope you can join in.

  1. Investing is fairly simple — develop a good plan and stick to it. Many investors don’t even have a plan but even those that do have trouble with the “sticking to it” part. Dan Richards wrote in The Globe and Mail about the behavioural traps that keep investors from sticking to a plan. Michael James also noted that when stocks are down, investors fail to rebalance believing their plan might be too aggressive.
  2. I don’t want to pick on The Star but its headline (Canadians paying through the ear for cellphones) is representative of a recent OECD report on cellphone prices in 30 countries. Dig deeper into the reports and you’ll find that Canada actually ranked 11th (out of 30 countries) in low-use, 3rd in “medium-use” and 12th in “high-use”.
  3. Rob Carrick shows how to build a diversified portfolio with just three iShares ETFs.
  4. Tim Cestnick listed the things that can help with winding down a loved one’s estate.
  5. Thicken My Wallet says that financing a small business is a larger-scale version of personal money management and the lessons of one apply to the other.
  6. Million Dollar Journey wrote about the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and its clawback. Personally, I’m hoping we won’t receive GIS!
  7. Claymore is conducting the 2nd Annual Next Top Model Summer ETF Competition. Larry MacDonald has some tips on winning stock picking contests. Last year, I picked CLO, COW and GAS and finished somewhere near the bottom.
  8. Kids will be back to school in a couple of weeks. Chaya Cooperberg wrote about how back to school shopping is stressing parents out.
  9. Where Does All My Money Go? featured a guest post by Daniela Garritano on having a champagne wedding on a beer budget. Speaking of weddings, Realizing Retirement, a new financial blog, featured the first in a series of posts on planning an actual budget wedding.
  10. Summer is also the time for vacations. Four Pillars says that to calculate the true cost of vacations, you have to net out the expenses of staying home.

With temperatures topping 30 degrees in Ottawa, summer seems to have finally arrived in Central Canada. Have a great weekend everyone!