Saturday, January 07, 2006

How to get poor fast.

I turn on TV for a moment today and find the "make money in real estate" infomercials that've been running forever have finally been topped by a make money in leveraged foreign exchange infomercial, for a thing called "4X Made Easy"

A guy is pointing to a line on chart of the Canadian dollar and gushing: "If you had bought at this point [low] and sold only three days later at this point [higher] you'd have made five times your money -- that's the power of leverage!"

Then a girl breaks in: "Let me break in, you can invest for longer periods. If you had bought the Euro at this point [low] and sold at this point [higher] eight days later, you'd have made twenty times your money. You can't get that trading stocks! That's the power of leverage!"

Nobody exactly says: "If you had bought at this point [high] and followed this line down for just one day, then just that one day later you'd have lost one times your money and be totally wiped out -- that's the power of leverage!"

Although they do address the picking winners issue with a testimonial: "I used to be a chess player, and chess is all about pattern recognition, you look at a position and know it is a win, a loss, or a draw. It's just the same here, you look at the charts and can see whether a currency is going up or down. Then you know what to do. I love it!"

Well, I used to be a tournament chess player, and while there is indeed plenty of pattern recognition in the game the "what to do" suggested by the patterns usually isn't so clear until near the end, and often clarifies out then as: "bend over, because you're about to get your butt kicked."

Of course, the question to be asked of all sellers of "make money by [whatever]" programs is: "If it's so easy to make money that way then why aren't you doing it instead of trying to make money in the sales business, buying TV time for infomercials, renting hotel meeting rooms, printing books, paying salespeople and shills to push this stuff..." As an observer at a 4X Made Easy fan site notes:
if this program made SO SO SO much money, 4X made easy wouldn't exist, because the creators would be making billions themsleves and not need to sell any BS software.
The realistic answer comes from another testimonial there...
It costs $3,000 and you need a data feed that costs $99 per month.
$3,000+, yikes! But apparently Barnum was right enough for it to be easier to make money selling stuff like this to people futilely looking for a football game on a Saturday afternoon than, well, honestly.

The thing was, I really found the whole production very entertaining. Everyone was so upbeat and happy and enthusiastic (actors, I presume) while being so transparent... "Just buy low and sell high! Leverage up! Go for it!" I'd have watched it as a show if it was paid for by real commercials for soap. It was like watching World Wrestling Entertainment after it changed its name and admitted all its matches are scripted to please. Except these people were scamming, in broad daylight on television.

Where the heck is Elliot Spitzer when we need him?