George Goodman, aka TV's "Adam Smith," Dies

He prided himself on making arcane debates among economists and business leaders understandable, often using an anecdotal or irreverent approach to explain a complicated issue.

Jan 3, 2014 at 3:05PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- George Goodman, a journalist, business author and award-winning television host who, under the pseudonym "Adam Smith," made economics accessible to millions of people, died Friday at age 83.

Goodman's son, Mark Goodman, said his father died at died at the University of Miami Hospital after a long battle with the bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis.

Starting in the 1950s, the elder Goodman had a long, diverse and accomplished career, whether as a founder of New York Magazine, as a best-selling business author or as the host of Adam Smith's Money World.

He prided himself on making arcane debates among economists and business leaders understandable, often using an anecdotal or irreverent approach to explain a complicated issue. He has been credited with coining the mocking catchphrase, "Assume a can opener," as a parody of academic jargon.

"I have always believed that if you dramatize a story, you can make it comprehensible while at the same time maintaining a relatively high level of sophistication," he once said.

Adam Smith's Money World was a multiple Emmy winner that aired on PBS stations from1984-1996. He was also an executive editor at Esquire, a member of The New York Times editorial board and a commentator for NBC television.

Before his success in the business world, Goodman had written novels and worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He helped adapt his own book, The Wheeler Dealers, into a movie of the same name starring Lee Remick and James Garner.

Smith's first business book, The Money Game, was among the top sellers of 1968 and is still praised as an invaluable guide for investors. It was also his first work as "Adam Smith." Founding New York Magazine editor Clay Felker had persuaded him to name himself after the 18th century economist. His other books included Powers of Mind and Paper Money, published in 1981.

"Where some authors exploit the paranoia over paper money, warning of horrible crashes and galloping inflation to come, Adam Smith strives for sanity," Leonard Silk wrote of Paper Money in a review for The New York Times. "And where some writers urge people to look out for Number One and to be prepared to head for the hills with their gold coins, silver futures, cans of beans and weapons to keep out the neighbors, Adam Smith counsels the revival of a sense of community."

Goodman grew up outside St. Louis and graduated from Harvard University in 1952. He was later a Rhodes Scholar and a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, later known as the Green Berets.

He is survived by two children and three grandchildren. His wife, actress Sally Brophy, died in 2007.

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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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