Financial markets fluctuate. Investors have good and bad years. Cities and states see their fortunes rise and fall. Banks soar, crash, and are bailed out by taxpayers. The only people who always come out ahead: the consultants.

When times are good, the consultants will tell you where to put your money. When times are tough, the consultants will tell you where to cut. When times are really tough, the lawyers will help save your ass. All for a hefty fee. What can we learn?

ITEM: The fees alone that the city of Detroit will have to pay to law firms and consultants just to declare bankruptcy could top $250 million.

ITEM: A single Washington consulting firm was paid $927.5 million to review foreclosure files for banks— part of a review that eventually led to a settlement of $9.3 billion, meaning that the consulting firm's fee was 10% as large as the entire settlement.

ITEM: "The six biggest U.S. banks...have piled up $103 billion in legal costs since the financial crisis, more than all dividends paid to shareholders in the past five years... The sum tops the banks’ combined profit last year."

CONCLUSION: Neither a borrower nor a lender be; be a consultant.

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