Dave Kansas And 'The End Of Wall Street' As the number of home foreclosures and job losses mount, many Americans are taking a closer look at their savings, investments and debts and wondering what to do. The answer to that question, says financial journalist Dave Kansas, usually depends on who's asking.

Dave Kansas And 'The End Of Wall Street'

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Dave Kansas is the editor-at-large for FiLife.com, an online personal finance site and the author of, "A Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It." he's in our New York bureau. Dave, thanks for joining us.

DAVE KANSAS: Great to be here.

HANSEN: If it's really the end of Wall Street as we know it, what will Wall Street look like in the future? I mean, how's it going to be different?

KANSAS: Well, it's already quite a lot different, if you think about Lehman Brothers isn't there anymore. Bear Stearns is really not there anymore. Merrill Lynch has been bought by Bank of America. It's a very different place than it was just 12 months ago.

HANSEN: Hmm. What do you think this new Wall Street is going to mean for the average investor?

KANSAS: People did not view the market as the risky vehicle that it really is and that got a lot of people into trouble. So, I think there's going to be a deeper understanding that stocks are, in fact, risky and more long-term investments than they are short-term investments.

HANSEN: Do you mind if I give you a couple of scenarios?

KANSAS: Sure.

HANSEN: All right. Say, you're not quite at retirement age, your 401K is worth about 30 percent less, what do you do? Do you sell it off? Do you put it in a money market mutual fund? What would you do?

KANSAS: Well, I think as you get closer to retirement age, it's really important to start preserving the money that you have saved so that you will have it for retirement.

HANSEN: So, sell the stock.

KANSAS: Don't sell it all. I think you want to keep some stock exposure as you get close to retirement. A good rule of thumb is that your age should be kind of where you are in terms of fixed income. So as you are at 65, moving, you know, to a 65 percent fixed income and 35 percent stocks is a safer stance than having it the reverse.

HANSEN: Hmm, and if you're 59?

KANSAS: Well, a little bit more exposure. The idea is that over the long- term, you know, stocks are down right now. But over the longer term I still believe that stocks will give you a better return than bonds or cash. And as you get closer to retirement, your needs for cash grows, so you want to build up and move more money toward that cash non-stock area. But at 59 there's a good chance you're going to live 25, 30 more years, you do need some exposure to that stock market, still.

HANSEN: Along with your book, Dave Kansas, you put out a series of short films about the collapse of our financial institutions. I just want to play a short clip from one of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVE KANSAS SHORT FILM)

KANSAS: For too many years people borrowed too much, spent too much, lived beyond their means and the time of reckoning has come to all of us.

HANSEN: Dave Kansas, a time of reckoning. Is this - just means scaling back or does it mean, like, giving up that dreams of that ski chalet or boat on the lake?

KANSAS: So, I think the idea of living within our means, being thrifty, being prudent is the prevailing notion. And it's an appropriate notion. And I think you see it in the reaction that the public is having to - lingering examples of corporate excess, whether it be Wall Street bonuses or flying your corporate jet to beg for government money. So, I think that this psychology of money, this return to thrift, return to prudence, is going to be with us for a little bit of time.

HANSEN: Dave Kansas is the author of "A Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It." He joined us from our New York bureau. Thank you very much.

KANSAS: Thank you.

HANSEN: And you can read an excerpt of that book by coming to NPR.org.

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