A perspective and a framework and some data so that you can make sensible choices about acquiring different assets at various stages of the life cycle."" And Chicago economist Aliber (The International Money Game), an uncommonly cogent writer, provides just that--in loosely connected, often amusing essays. ""All investments are bets against an uncertain future,"" he comments. Or: ""When inflation becomes unpopular, the country that eliminated polio, smallpox, and Saturday morning mail deliveries will eliminate it."" Asset accumulation, Aliber believes, is at best a hazardous and protracted process. Accordingly, he surveys opportunities--in securities, commodities, collectibles, real estate, etc.--in a long-terre Context. Quotes on active futures contracts, he notes, invariably overshoot the highs and lows logged in spot markets. Nor, save on paper, have typically cash-poor owners of farmland fared particularly well. Apart from a few kind words for closed-end mutual funds, Aliber favors no one commitment over another--primarily because short-run success requires accurate forecasts of inflation and tax rates as well as other aspects of the financial environment. But lifetime investors can profit from a systematic approach--whose ""Axioms, Propositions, and Commandments"" conclude this painlessly informative, unpretentiously expert treatise.