Invested: How Three Centuries of Stock Market Advice Reshaped Our Money, Markets, and Minds.
Edited by Paul Crosthwaite, Peter Knight, Nicky Marsh, Helen Paul, and James Taylor, University of Chicago Press 2022.
Who hasn’t wished for a surefire formula for riches and a ticket to the good life? For three centuries, investment advisers of all kinds, legit and otherwise, have guaranteed that they alone can illuminate the golden pathway to prosperity—despite strong evidence to the contrary. In fact, too often, they are singing a siren song of devastation. And yet we keep listening. Invested tells the story of how the genre of investment advice developed and grew in the United Kingdom and the United States, from its origins in the eighteenth century through today, as it saturates our world. The authors analyze centuries of books, TV shows, blogs, and more, all promising techniques for amateur investors to master the ways of the market: from Thomas Mortimer’s pathbreaking 1761 work, “Every Man His Own Broker”, through the Gilded Age explosion of sensationalist investment manuals, the early twentieth-century emergence of a vernacular financial science, and the more recent convergence of self-help and personal finance. Invested asks why, in the absence of evidence that such advice reliably works, guides to the stock market have remained perennially popular. The authors argue that the appeal of popular investment advice lies in its promise to level the playing field, giving outsiders the privileged information of insiders. As Invested persuasively shows, the fantasies sold by these writings are damaging and deceptive, peddling unrealistic visions of easy profits and the certainty of success, while trying to hide the fact that there is no formula for avoiding life’s economic uncertainties and calamities.