Perhaps the scariest book of the year

Local money manager Paul Merriman will read from his updated investor-friendly guide to the stock market at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 on Bainbridge.

Local money manager Paul Merriman will read from his updated investor-friendly guide to the stock market at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 on Bainbridge.

“How old are you?” the refined gray-haired gentlemen wearing smart-guy spectacles and a crisp business shirt asks me as we sit down to talk about his new book over coffee.

I’m sitting with Paul Merriman, Bainbridge-based investment expert and former Wall Street stock broker. We’re talking about his newly updated book on investing — “Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money” — which he brings to Eagle Harbor Thursday.

“Twenty-two” I reply.

“You should be investing all of your money in equities right now,” Merriman says with a bit of fervor in his voice. “It’s your opportunity to get good assets for cheap.”

Right. I try not to laugh.

First off, I don’t have the money to invest, given a community journalist’s salary these days. But even if I did, the thought of investing it all into the stock market, with the nation’s financial sector at its worst since the Great Depression and frantic investors and brokers screaming that the sky is falling and Armageddon is at hand, somehow doesn’t seem all that appealing.

“How can anyone have any sort of confidence in putting their money into the market these days?” I ask him.

“You’re trusting the capitalist system,” Merriman replies matter-of-factly. “Because that’s what’s behind the market … . And if you trust the capitalist system, then bear markets represent opportunities.”

Chew on that one for awhile.

You can tell Merriman has been in the game a long time, and by his calm demeanor amidst this seemingly magnanimous crisis, one can surmise he’s played it fairly well.

He made his first investment at 19 and by the time he was my age, he was a stock broker on Wall Street. He got into that world with the youthful ideal that he’d be helping people make money on their investments, but, he said, “I found a business that is fraught with conflicts of interest.”

While ideally brokers would be working in the best interest of their clients, Merriman said, in reality, they work in the best interest of the company, oftentimes at the expense of the client. Seeing this fundamental flaw, he abandoned his post as a broker and went into running public company among other work, retiring at the age of 40.

Now 65, he’s never renounced that ideal of helping people make money through sound investing.

Which is where this book, workshops like the shortened version he’ll give at Eagle Harbor Thursday, his Web site and his Sunday Morning radio show — Sound Investing on KVI 570 AM — come in.

“We show people how to do everything on their own, and that eliminates the conflicts of interest,” he said.

Merriman will be giving a short investing workshop and reading from his book “Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow Way on Bainbridge. Info:, or call the store at (206) 842-5332.