The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (Little Books. Big Profits) Paperback – Large Print, May 7, 2009
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- Publisher : John Wiley & Sons (May 7, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 242 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0470580917
- ISBN-13 : 978-0470580912
- Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.25 x 0.55 x 10.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,623,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I found a lot to like about the The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle. Mr. Bogle was the founder of The Vanguard Group and is famous for creating the world’s first index mutual fund in 1975, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund.
The logic of his index fund was to invest in a large number of stocks, all the stocks comprising the S&P 500, to make money from the combination of their growth and dividends. This is a departure from the more common view of investing in undervalued stocks to make money from an increase in their stock value.
Bogle makes a convincing argument that the best way to get the value from the stock market is to invest in all the stocks by buying mutual funds based on indexes of the market that invest in all the stocks.
The author points out that the real net income from stock investments is the investments’ gain minus the cost of the investments. The costs are relatively easy to determine in the case of retail brokers charging for a stock trade when buying or selling stocks. However, the costs are much more complicated for mutual funds because, in addition to the cost of the trade, in many cases there is an annual incentive sales fee for the broker for up to five years (up to 1.5% a year according to the author). I had no idea that there were hidden sales fees in addition to the purchase fee charged by the brokers. In addition to annual fees, most mutual funds typically have additional management fees of 2 to 3%. In comparison, index funds have low management fees (often .4% or lower) with no hidden sales fees.
What is more disturbing is that 99% of mutual funds significantly underperform the S&P 500 index. When the excessive costs combined with the underperformance of mutual funds are compared to S&P index funds, the long term income differences are shocking. The net return after taxes of $10,000 invested in an indexed fund from 1980 to 2005 would have been $76,200 versus $16,700 for other mutual funds (for those mutual funds that survived). This represents 456% more net income to the investor with far less risk.
If you are one of the 85% of investors who let their broker "manage" their assets, Bogle’s book may keep you awake at night. To sleep better, I switched to low cost, low risk index funds.
The author’s perspective is unique since he invented the very first indexed funds. It is a little like reading Thomas Edison's thoughts about the light bulb. Bogle knows the issues and history of investing in indexes versus other types of mutual funds.
This "common sense investing" book was easy to read and easy to understand. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting their investments to produce more income with less risk. Five Stars and hats off to the founder of index investing.
Warren Buffett said; Jack Bogle did more for the individual investor than anyone he’s ever known.
Buy it, read it and pass it on.
Bogle also points out the problems of forecasting the future exclusively by looking to the past. It's been used as a justification in housing that prices never go down, various hedge fund strategies, etc. The problem is back in the past, housing prices never went up by 10-20% a year nor did we have hedge funds moving money around by clicks on a keyboard like we do now. The past is a guide but not a guarantee by any means.
Overall, a simple book, a wonderful book, and if the investors of Bernie Murdoff had read this book, they probably wouldn't have lost $50 billion!
Top reviews from other countries
However...and it's a big however. In practice, I think the repetition is important. It is only superfluous for those who may have already learned the lessons, bought into the underlying logic. The fact is that the preponderance of investors (and, apparently, fund managers) still believe in an Alice-in-Wonderland world of investment which is all about special insights, market timing, leveraging and unfeasibly complex investment products or strategies. In the UK, many IFAs still attempt to 'pick the winners', akin to having a day at the races, except one's entire future wealth prospects depends upon the outcome. Bogle circles around, and comes back to his themes, but exploring them in different contexts, and with different examples.
The author deals with all of this. He writes beautifully, and clearly. He is always forthright, and the text breathes commonsense and belief in every sentence. He also very usefully handles the issue of fads - for instance, chapter 15 supplies some much needed clarity on the pitfalls of ETFs, which often appear to be embraced somewhat indiscriminately by investors and advisers alike. There are eighteen chapters, which may seem a lot for "The Little Book of...", but they are short chapters, and they provide access to the subject-matter in bite-size chunks. This is eminently readable, even for busy people with little time for reading.
Overall, this is a very useful book of practical guidance on the subject of investing. I would also recommend very strongly Jack's other seminal book, 'Enough': Enough True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by Bogle, John C. ( Author ) ON Jun-25-2010, Paperback
"The Little Book of Common Sense Investing" is focused on the use of index-linked funds, which are described as the ideal investment tool for people who don't want to get too involved in stock-watching, but want an investment which has a good chance of soundly beating the returns offered by cash savings accounts over the long term.
With the author John Bogle being one of the key players in the field of index funds (albeit now retired), one could easily anticipate a certain unfair bias in favour of these products. There does appear to be a certain element of this, as no mention is given of any potential disadvantages to index funds (other sources confirm that they do exist to some degree). That said, the book gives very clear examples of why an index fund can be generally expected to beat the alternatives, and provides an excellent argument for why this should be one of the main investment tools for everyone except die-hard gamblers.
I wish the book was a little longer, with some discussion of the disadvantages of these index funds and a clearer display of how level-headedness and the Dunning–Kruger effect contribute to people being so determined that they can beat the market.