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Investor Psychology

Trump and Kiyosaki Say They Want You to Be Rich

A new book by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki offers only vague strategy.

In a world filled with financial peril, two men think they can save you. One comes from the mean streets of midtown Manhattan, a survivor of the reality TV jungle. The other is a fighter from Hawaii, hardened in pits of real estate investing expos and public television pledge drives. Who are these self-proclaimed straight shooters? None other than mega-developer Donald Trump and entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki (best known for his New York Times best seller Rich Dad Poor Dad.).

Together, this dynamic duo has collaborated on Why We Want You to Be Rich, out in bookstores Oct. 10. The book seeks to free you from the banality of middle-class financial life -- and the folly of most personal-finance advice. Or so its authors would like you to believe.

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The Donald needs no introduction. Kiyosaki's success with Rich Dad Poor Dad has spawned a franchise of books, games and speaking engagements. He's also made a PBS special, usually trotted out when public television stations need help from viewers like you.

Impressive resumes. Alas, unimpressive book. Why We Want You to Be Rich is a thinly veiled infomercial for more financial-advice products from Kiyosaki, Trump and their minions. They sell positive thinking and can-do haziness -- specific details cost extra.

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Why We Want You to Be Rich seeks first to scare you silly. The middle class, according to the authors, is shriveling, sapped by the falling value of the dollar, rising national debt, lower wages, higher oil prices and baby-boomer retirement. The upshot: America is headed for a two-class system. In the future, the rich will live above the fray of national collapse while the rest of us gnash our teeth.

What to do? Kiyosaki offers a "financial education." Trump spins plenty of anecdotes and stories. But the result is more gristle and flab than real meat.

Forget mutual funds and modern portfolio theory, Kiyosaki argues for most of the book. Instead try investing in real estate, especially if you borrow money from the bank to do it. Just leverage your way to a portfolio of real estate and small businesses that will generate enough income to retire to Easy Street.

Still not sure how to do that? Well, buy more books and attend more conferences featuring -- you guessed it -- Kiyosaki and Trump.

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If this book were a football broadcast, Kiyosaki would be the play-by-play announcer and Trump would do color. That is to say, the book is more Kiyosaki's than Trump's. At the end of each chapter, The Donald meditates on the wisdom Kiyosaki has set forth. Among his insights are that he enjoys golf, he was quite the baseball player in his youth and he likes to visit Los Angeles from time to time.

To be fair, the book's introduction tells readers this is not a how-to book. A disclaimer on the cover would be more appropriate. Why We Want You to Be Rich pretends to explain why the rich are different and to outline the benefits of wealth. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald does a better job. If you are genuinely interested in learning more about real estate investing, which is not for the faint of heart, check out Investing in Real Estate, by Andrew James McLean and Gary Eldred.