Friday, December 31, 2010

The Club No One Wanted To Join - Book Review

I have to admit that I am pretty naïve about the financial world. I don’t follow financial news and don’t have investments that I keep up with. When I was asked to review The Club No One Wanted To Join; Madoff Victims In Their Own Words, I was intrigued. I had heard a very little about the Madoff Ponzi scheme and this was an opportunity to expand my horizons. I am very glad I read it. Not only did it show me what the Madoff scheme was all about, it showed me how little confidence we should have in any sort of investment. The books also came at a time that was relevant in this investigation. Recently an investor’s widow gave back a huge chunk of money (great news!) and unfortunately Madoff’s son didn’t think any of this was worth it and took his own life. I cannot imagine the grief that was all caused by the deceit and greediness by Bernie Madoff.

The victims were in this situation because, like all of us, wanted to invest for retirement. It was not greediness on their part, but security. I assume that not all investors were legitimate, but the stories in this book show that the vast majority were and had their life savings stole from them with no warning. I couldn’t believe the victims were being attacked and ridiculed because they “fell for” this scheme. Judgment by outside sources is harsh and not appropriate.

My biggest eye-opening is information about the way our financial system works (or has failed to work, in this case). The SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corp.) was created by congress to protect investors. If a brokerage firm failed, the SIPC was there to pay back the investors based on their last statement. THAT IS THEIR FUNCTION. Madoff was a SIPC member in good standing but SIPC will not pay back Madoff investors. Just won’t. What happens if our bank fails? The FDIC pays customers their last statement amount. What if they wouldn’t? No good reason, just won’t. Think about that. Madoff had been investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and was found to be in compliance each time. How does that happen? How far up do the failures (or overlooking) go?

I learned a lot from the stories I read. I have compassion for those that are trying to rebuild new lives and hope that in the end they will recover their investments. I cannot get past the greed from one man that has deliberately destroyed other.

Proverbs 11:4-6
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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