In this week’s Five Good Questions, we’re interviewing Jason Zweig about his new book The Devil’s Financial Dictionary.

Five Good Question: Jason Zweig

Jason Zweig is an investing columnist at The Wall Street Journal and editor of Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor. He’s also author of Your Money and Your Brain (2007), on the neuroscience and psychology of financial decision-making, and The Devil’s Financial Dictionary (2015), a satirical glossary of Wall Street jargon.

  1. The entire book was written with tongue in cheek and there are some hilarious definitions. What inspired you to write a book of this nature?
  2. I enjoyed the entry on the term “panic” and how it related in multiple ways to the Greek god Pan. Can you explain the multiple parallels that exist?
  3. I like to imagine two intersecting continuums for intelligent investing. On one of them is a “be the casino” approach most like Joel Greenblatt vs. a highly concentrated, individual company research like how Charlie Munger ran his fund. On the second continuum you have an all-weather, always-invested-and-rebalancing approach most like Ray Dalio vs. a fear-and-greed, holding-cash-for-opportunities-approach of Seth Klarman. In which quadrant would you find yourself drawn to or at least want your money managed? [All Weather] ? [Be the casino] ? ? [Concentration] ? [Opportunistic]
  4. I found it surprising to be reminded how much of the terminology of Wall Street is derived from gambling parlance. “Making a bet,” “blue chip,” etc. Do you believe that the markets are like large casinos or do they actually serve to allocate resources to worthy enterprises?
  5. What is the one quality people should work hardest to cultivate in order to succeed as investors?

Jason Zweig – The Devil’s Financial Dictionary

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary – Description

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary by Jason Zweig

Your Survival Guide to the Hades of Wall Street

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary skewers the plutocrats and bureaucrats who gave us exploding mortgages, freakish risks, and banks too big to fail. And it distills the complexities, absurdities, and pomposities of Wall Street into plain truths and aphorisms anyone can understand.

An indispensable survival guide to the hostile wilderness of today’s financial markets, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary delivers practical insights with a scorpion’s sting. It cuts through the fads and fakery of Wall Street and clears a safe path for investors between euphoria and despair.

Staying out of financial purgatory has never been this fun.

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary – Review

“Part social commentary, part instruction manual, Zweig’s book is must-reading for anyone who presumes or desires to understand the investment world…. Like the book in which they’re contained, each of Zweig’s entries is pointed, witty, and revealing of important and useful truths. The Devil himself, a.k.a., [Ambrose] Bierce, would be proud.” — TIME

“The perfect stocking stuffer for anyone remotely interested in finance.” — Business Insider

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary is witty, irreverent, skeptical and humorous—making it an entertaining read for those within and outside the financial industry.” — Manhattan Book Review

”Consistently yields pleasure and insight…. Thanks to the author’s staggering command of his subject, readers of this book will shed costly misconceptions and acquire wisdom that, if accompanied by patience, could pay off richly. The serious message embedded in the book’s humor is that investors who pay attention to stock market lore and Wall Street hype are their own worst enemies in securing their financial future.” — BARRONS

“Inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s masterpiece The Devil’s Dictionary, Jason Zweig takes an equally beautiful and cynical view of the entire finance industry.” — Farnam Street

“This is the most amusing presentation of the principles of finance that I have ever seen.” — Robert J. Shiller, professor of finance, Yale University; Nobel laureate in economics; author of Irrational Exuberance

“Someone had to write a short, punchy book on the fibs and fables of Wall Street during this second Gilded Age for the extravagantly-paid manipulators of our financial system. Happily for readers—whether wise, naïve, or victimized—journalist Jason Zweig picked up the challenge, and ran for the winning touchdown with it. Laugh, cry, and learn as you enjoy the sparkling Devil’s Financial Dictionary.” — John C. Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group; author of Common Sense on Mutual Funds

“A delightfully humorous and stunningly irreverent Ambrose Bierce for financial markets. This satirical critique of what passes for wisdom on Wall Street belongs on the bookshelf of every serious investor.” — Burton G. Malkiel, professor of finance emeritus, Princeton University; author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street

“Open this wonderful book to any page. Try not to laugh. I dare you.” —James Grant, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

“Jason Zweig’s book is absolutely marvelous. It combines wicked humor, scholarly etymology, and superb advice. If you have money invested, you must read this book; if you don’t, read it anyway for pure fun.” — William F. Sharpe, emeritus professor of finance, Stanford University; Nobel laureate in economics

“You’ll love this book. Zweig cuts through financial hypocrisy to expose Wall Street’s cynical core, and does it hilariously. You’ll also get some super-smart investment tips. One of my favorite devilish definitions: ‘Broker: Buys and sells stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets for people who are under the delusion that the broker is doing something other than guesswork.’” — Jane Bryant Quinn, author of Making the Most of Your Money Now

“Both witty and wise—with just a refreshing dash of cynicism–The Devil’s Financial Dictionary should be on every desk on both Wall Street and Main Street.” —John Steele Gordon, author of An Empire of Wealth and The Business of America

Jason Zweig The Devil's Financial Dictionary

The Devil’s Financial Dictionary by Jason Zweig