Schooling The Money "Experts"

financial advice books

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman took a long look over the 2009 investment guides, each one chock-full of advice on how to get back the money investors lost ... after taking the advice of their 2008 investment guides.

It can seems, with few exceptions, these so called "money experts" are no better at deciding where to put your money than your money would be itself. Just flip a coin! Quarters don't even make you pay for their advice.

But Hartman gave the "experts" the benefit of the doubt, and went to the home of David Elias, who, in the 1990s, wrote a book on investments called "Dow 40,000."

"Beautiful house," Hartman said upon meeting Elias at home. "You must not listen to your own advice."

"What's that mean?" Elias laughed.

What that means is that Elias's book wasn't exactly on the money. It made a prediction about where the Dow Jones Industrial Average would be just a few years from now, saying it would reach up into the tens of thousands. Ooops.

"My timing was off, I like that better than I was wrong, my timing was off a little bit," Elias said.

David was dodgy. Hartman said he wanted to Mike Wallace him - but it's very hard to call a guy on the carpet when he's got his 12-year-old grandson sitting in on the interview.

Instead, Elias scolded Hartman for completely missing one of the most important parts of his prediction - the disclaimer - on page 103.

"We can not possibly forecast the inevitable changes caused by innovation, wars, acts of God and other unforeseen variable," the book reads.

Maybe he should have called it "Dow 40,000 - Unless something changes."

In his defense, Elias wasn't the only one to make outlandish predictions about the market.

One book another called for the Dow to hit 100,000 by 2020. That one was just one zero off. The authors insist their predictions will still come true - in time. In time to retire? In geologic time? Who knows? Who cares? I mean would anybody really listen to these guys anymore?

You'd be surprised.

During the election, "Dow 36,000" author Kevin Hassett was John McCain's senior economic advisor. His co-author, James Glassman, has been serving in the Bush Administration as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.

"Bubble Boom" author Harry Dent, the man who said we'd be the greatest stock market boom in history right now, actually has turned a full 180 with a new book out called "The Great Depression Ahead," which is probably a good sign.

And of course, there's David Elias.

"You can run into periods like this," Elias said. "Nothing goes straight up."

Hartman watched his mouth around Elias's grandson, and admitted he wishes Elias well in his latest prediction: Dow 40,000 by 2026.

"Now if you're wrong about that can I come back and you'll say you're wrong or will you say your timing was off?" Hartman asked.

"If you come back I will cook for you, I will wash your clothes, and I will admit that I was wrong," Elias said.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.