The Con Game

Why I Fired My Broker by Jeffrey Goldberg
The Atlantic, May 2009

"For most of our adult lives, my wife and I have behaved in the way responsible cogs of capitalism are supposed to behave--we invested in a carefully calibrated mix of equities and bonds; we bought and held; we didn’t overextend on real estate; we put the maximum in our 401(k) accounts; we gave to charity; and we saved, but we also spent: mainly on gasoline, food, and magazines. In retrospect, we didn’t have the proper appreciation for risk, but who did? We were children of the bull market. Even at its top, my investment portfolio was never anything to write home about. Its saving grace was that it was mine. And I imagined that when we did cash out, at 60 or 65, I would pass my time buying my wife semisubstantial pieces of jewelry and going bass fishing like the men in Flomax commercials. Well, goodbye to all that. I took a random walk down Wall Street and got hit by a bus."

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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