Bypass Wall Street: A Biologist’s Guide to the Rat Race by Joanna Masel

By Joanna Masel

Pundits urge you to avoid wasting extra money for retirement. yet you can’t devour piles of kept cash; unles....

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Additional resources for Bypass Wall Street: A Biologist’s Guide to the Rat Race

Sample text

Or are all the savers in a relative competition, an arms race to stake a claim to a larger share of society’s relatively inflexible amount of wealth? Each tree also “saves” its energy and “invests” those savings in seeds to provide for its genetic future. The more a tree saves and invests, the better its future. But the more the forest saves and invests, the worse its future. Biology may have something to teach us here. These distinctions between relative and absolute competitions, and between the good of each individual and the good of the group, apply to both biology and economics.

No investor could have known how dangerous asbestos was, but when it started killing people, the lawsuits followed. Many companies that sold or used asbestos then owed more money than they could pay, and declared bankruptcy. If Jen were unlucky enough to choose stocks like that, then she would have little or no money left for her retirement. An asbestos-type disaster doesn’t usually affect every company in the whole stock market. If Jen spreads her money out across many companies, some of them may be unlucky and go bankrupt, while others may do unexpectedly well and grow huge.

Laborers live by spending their wages. Jen’s nice job, with a comfortable income, puts her in the “labor” economic class. If she could find an investment that paid 7% interest on her $700,000 capital, and if she were willing to scale back her cost of living, then her inheritance would allow her to quit that job and become a member of the capitalist class instead. Jen could also keep one foot in each of these economic classes. Her capital, invested partly in stock and bond markets with a 7% rate of return, and partly in owning her own house, is effectively a massive $43,000 pay raise on top of her $80,000 salary.

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