What if boomers can't retire? By Thornton Parker Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers Three major trends have emerged in recent years, especially since the technology-stock boom went bust in early-2000. These are an ageing population in nearly all developed countries, inflated corporate stock prices that created the illusion of real wealth and growing reliance by baby boomers on these stocks to help them retire. The book demonstrates that stocks are not the much-touted quick fix for the social security system in any country. On the contrary, the idea of using stocks to shore up the system is fundamentally flawed, says the author Thornton Parker. He says the system is based on using phantom wealth - or wealth derived from inflated stocks prices and nothing more - to transfer money from workers to retirees. On the bright side, if boomers learn to preserve wealth and if a country can improve its use of capital, people could enjoy fuller lives, healthier communities and a sustainable economy. At the outset, Parker says the book was written to present five major messages: A number of developed countries' economies and many of their retirement plans are built on a structure of phantom wealth that depends on stock prices. Stock prices are based on projected future events or what people hope will happen, not on actual corporate accomplishments. Using stock prices to measure wealth is like counting chickens before they hatch. The drive to create phantom wealth by inflating stock prices helps some people, but it distorts the economy and hurts society. Demographic trends and retirement plans are helping to build phantom wealth structure. But unless the structure is replaced with one that is more sustainable, those same trends will eventually make it fail - and that in turn will drag down the retirement plans and the economy. Individuals and organisations can help prevent retirement plans and economies as a whole from collapsing by creating real wealth based on work, earnings and solid accomplishments, instead of just hopes. But Parker emphasises that our financial future need not be so bleak. He shows how to cut through the glut of conflicting advice on the stock market and make sound investment decisions, as well as prevent economic disasters. The author details specific actions that individuals and organisations can take to gradually make the shift from the short-sighted pursuit of phantom wealth to productive investments based on real accomplishments, goods and services. He has more than 45 years of experience in strategic planning, finance, technology management and policy development, including working with the United States commerce department.