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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Confessions of a Newsletter Man

Both of your authors have worked in the financial newsletter industry, one for nearly 30 years. Was ever there a fairer métier, we wonder? The poor carpenter risks cutting his fingers or banging his knee. The used car salesman's hearing goes bad as soon as he takes up his job: “No, I don't hear any rattle,” says he. The foot soldier gets sent to a godforsaken hole like Iraq, where the women are covered up and the liquor stashed away.

But in our trade, hardly a newspaper or a day passes without a good laugh. Our only occupational hazard is a rupture of the midriff.

Perhaps we should explain whence cometh this heightened sense of humor. Most people, after all, read the news pages for information. They lack the proper training and perspective to fully enjoy the jolly news. As a result, they are always in danger of taking its humbug seriously and finding the people in the headlines important. If you really want to appreciate the media, though, you have to get close enough to see how things work—like a prairie dog peering into a hay bailer—but not so close that you get caught up in it yourself. The newsletter business is perfect; it is a part of the media, but no one would mistake it for the most respectable part.

Back in the 1970s, the investment newsletter business was even more fun than it is today. Since then, years of television, heavy‐handed regulation, and airport security have taken much of the lightheartedness out of American life. In its place, ...

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