Erdman, who's made a name for himself as a best-selling novelist (The Crash of '79, The Last Days of America, The Panic of '89, etc.) is also a Ph.D. economist with experience in international banking, the investment field, and industry. Here, he offers a brief but judicious follow-up to his prescient 1984 guide (Paul Erdman's Money Book) that provides worldly-wise comment on the state of the global economy and recommends individual financial strategies. There's good news as well as bad in the wake of the stock market's October meltdown, according to Erdman. On the plus side of the ledger, he notes comparatively low interest rates have given the US and other industrial powers a reprieve. In addition, the author predicts the recession (not depression) that will almost certainly strike early next year could prove short-lived. On the other hand, he foresees a genuinely punishing slump. For example, Erdman believes the inability of leveraged corporations to meet their debt-service obligations could trigger widespread layoffs and cause further problems for overextended banks. In the meantime, he expects de facto devaluation of the dollar to accelerate the advance of the so-called J curve, producing a positive swing in America's trade balances (which could benefit as well from continued availability of cheaper oil). In the context of the market and economic scenarios he considers probable, Erdman weighs the risks and rewards of various investment opportunities for both the near and longer terms. In easy-to-follow fashion, he covers not only conventional commitments like equities, debt instruments, and money-market funds, but also more speculative possibilities, including gold, options, and real estate. Casting a cold eye on incipient reform campaigns, he observes that imposing restrictions on futures trading would drive it abroad, as happened with the Eurodollar market, ""now a $2 trillion business that is done chiefly out of London, rather than in New York, where it logically belongs."" The bottom line: a thoughtful evaluation for those at a loss to make sense of an increasingly turbulent marketplace.