Voodoo Economics: A financial planner turns shaman to manage his clients money and their souls

As a successful financial planner, Larry Ford helps his clients manage their wallets. But as a shaman, he also helps them tap into their spirituality. Video by Pierre Kattar/washingtonpost.com
By Laura Blumenfeld
Sunday, December 7, 2008

The full moon polishes Larry Ford's silver Mercedes. The car turns, glowing, down an unlit road. Larry is a financial adviser, driving home from work on another day of vanishing American retail sales, credit, stocks and jobs. Larry's blond hair shines white in the alchemizing light. It is hard to distinguish the tricks of the moon from what is real.

"How many people can explain what a credit default swap is?" Larry says. "You call that real?"

Larry's pupils widen, jumping from his BlackBerry to a curve in the road. The markets are "a dream based on greed," he says. Now, he has to guide his clients through "the meltdown of the dream."

Larry parks his Mercedes at his nine-room colonial in Glastonbury, Conn., about two hours north of New York City. He will leave for Manhattan tomorrow, for two days of meetings. By 5 a.m., he is jostling the suit hangers in his closet, pulling out a size 42-long, black, pin-striped Armani. He calls it "my New York armor." He will wear it on Wall Street.

Down in the kitchen as the day breaks, Larry's fiancee, Yvette, is pouring oil into a frying pan, scrambling eggs for their four children -- two his, two hers. Larry's 14-year-old, Lexy, bounds downstairs. She looks like her dad: long-limbed, thin and unassumingly striking, offering a smile that suggests you are friends before you are.

"Got a test today?" Larry asks.

"Mmm, yeah." Lexy is looking down.

"Did you study good?"

"Gotta go! It's 6:50 -- "

Ohm mani padme hum, ohm mani padme hum . . .

From a room beyond the kitchen's granite countertops rises the sound of Tibetan monks chanting.

Ohm ni padme hum . . .

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