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Not All False Prophets Are Promoting Religions…

False finance prophets’ credentials or charisma are much more impressive than their track records — but we need a way to tell

Recently, our authors Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary Smith alerted MarketWatch readers to the problem of “false prophets” in the investment world: We could write a long book about false prophets on Wall Street. What is interesting is how easily people are enchanted by charismatic personalities — some who peddle advice, some who run companies. A decade ago, for example, Yahoo tried to save itself by paying almost $1 billion to five charismatic CEOs (Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, and Marissa Mayer), four of them outsiders, who were hired over a five-year period and arguably did more harm than good. Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith, “Sensible stock investors put their money on a company’s real…