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The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism Paperback – November 27, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its inflated title, this volume is a worthy jeremiad against corporate excess, especially the kind hastened by the mutual fund industry that Bogle, former CEO of low-cost Vanguard, knows well. Among the problems: inflated executive compensation and creative accounting that allows companies to claim profits even when they're in the red. Mutual fund companies, Bogle charges, care more about short-term results than long-term value, and many of them gain profits for larger parent corporations by charging investors unnecessary fees that undermine the funds' net returns. To remedy such problems, Bogle writes, mutual fund owners and their fiduciaries must exercise the corporate responsibility they now shirk, and fund boards must be reshaped to serve the interests of shareholders. He advances in all seriousness Warren Buffett's once-joking idea for a high tax on short-term trading gains and calls for a federal commission to examine the way pension funds are managed, as well as the state of our retirement systems in general. While other recent books, such as David Swensen's Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment, marry similar criticisms with more advice for individual investors, Bogle—a rock-ribbed Republican businessman—still deserves attention in the precincts of power. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Bogle describes the continuous struggle for control of our capitalistic system, the odds being heavily in favor of the managers. Individual investors and beneficiaries remain helpless, intermediaries are passive or conflicted, and boards not yet effective. You owe it to yourself to read this book and reflect on his call for further federal intervention to restore some balance."-Ira Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300119712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300119718
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jack Bogle, often called the "concience of the industry," has written a powerful book on a subject that concerns every American--"capitalism." As founder and retired CEO of the second largest mutual fund company in the world, Mr. Bogle understands capitalism. He has the unusual ability (for a businessman) to write beautifully, logically and understandably for the average reader. "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" is the result.

The thrust of Mr. Bogle's message (documented over and over) is that corporations are now controlled by their managers--not by their owners (shareholders). (The average CEO compensation has soared to 280 times that of the average worker.) Mr. Bogle deftly lays out the problem, but more importantly, he gives us the solution that will return capitalism to its owners and value creation. I could not put the book down.

Taylor Larimore,

Miami, Florida
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Format: Hardcover
The individual investor has no better friend than Jack Bogle. Not only did he introduce index funds as a significant investment alternative some thirty years ago, but he has consistently and uncompromingly spoken out against the shareholder-unfriendly practices of his own mutual fund industry. "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" is a beautifully written, persuasively argued overview of how corporate and investment fund shareholders are short-changed. More importantly, Bogle offers sensible reforms to fix the problems. This is more than an investor's book, it is an essential book for all caring citizens.
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Format: Hardcover
In his usual tell-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred fashion, Jack Bogle names names and affixes blame where it belongs as he outlines the major problems facing our present system of capitalism, with special emphasis on the greed and coruption in corporate America and in the investment arena, and the failure of our "gatekeepers" to do their jobs properly. Like the true leader and visionary that he is, Bogle not only identifies the problems, but offers sound solutions as well. Powerful stuff! A must-read for investors as well as those who care about the future of American capitalism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Bogle points out what should have been obvious to me - that the ultimate owners of investment capital have virtually no influence on how their own capital is used. Instead the agents of the owners control the capital and act in a very self-interested incestuous manner. In short, they have stolen the soul of capitalism and robbed investors of trillions of dollars.

This book could only have been written by John Bogle, the man that has saved the common investor billions of dollars annually by refusing to operate in a status quo manner. This book eloquently explains what went wrong, why it went wrong, and most importantly, what we can do to fix it. I was steaming mad as I again realized how our trusted fiduciaries violated their duties of loyalty and prudence. The big question for me is will I stay mad enough to actually do something about it?

I highly recommend this book. It may be the first major shot in a long battle for capitalists to take back control of our own capital.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a call to arms. It will not help an individual investor form a strategy for profiting amongst the corporate looters.

That said, it is an excellent call to arms. Maybe its effect will be motivating more individuals to shun the more egregious parts of the finance industry and to quit being passive owners. That might have an effect.

As for myself, if I'd read this book earlier, I might have recognized, and avoided, a few bad investments (boston chicken, dhb, etc) where the insiders were basically looting from the owners. So, after reading this book, folks should be fired up enough to try identifying greedy corporate management, weak boards of directors, and passive ownership. The book points the way but does not supply the tools.

recent cases in point (as of 1/9/07):

Goldman sachs gives huge bonuses instead of distributing because management rode some bubbles to yield massive paper returns. Will they take money back in a bad year? Good year management gets big bonus, bad year owners eat loss.

Lesson: greedy management, avoid goldman sachs.

Home depot gives a few hundreds of millions severance to the CEO.

Lesson: weak board, avoid home depot

Come to think of it, my S&P index fund holdings are feeding the frenzy. I should pull out and put the money where I can vote my shares.
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Format: Hardcover
If you ever want to get an idea of why Mr. Bogle founded Vanguard, you need to read this book. To him, fees and taxes really do matter to the sucess of a mutual fund. He is straight forward in showing that he feels mutual funds and their managers plus senior corporate management are making too much money or as he say taking too much of your profit. Plus he goes on to show that most mutual funds do not beat the market. Thus they are not worth their fees and their managers do not deserve large salaries, stock options, or bonuses. He will take you back and explain how, in his opinion, the American Capitalism went wrong and offers suggestions to fix this process. He offers lots of supporting articles and reports to back his opinions. If you want to get a history lesson on how capitalism developed in American and the people who made it happen, you will find this in his book. One might think Mr. Bogle is a liberal or very,very far left in his political views as he is out raged over the lack of ethics and money shifts of the corporate world but I believe he is a more to the far right side of the political world and he is truely out raged by corporate America. There is a lot we as individual fund owners can do to make change happen but it will take a lot of effort on our part to change the system.
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