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129 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism"
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...
Published on October 1, 2005 by Taylor Larimore

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18 of 90 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars With friends like Bogle, capitalism doesn't need...
This book is pop capitalism for bone-headed businessman/investor (or women) worried about P/E ratios, x%/yr gains and other such nonsense. In other words, it is not about capitalism at all.

Take, for example, Bogle believing it was worth quoting Felix Rohatyn on p.218: "I am an American capitalist and believe that market capitalism is the best economic system...
Published on January 11, 2006 by G. R. White


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129 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism", October 1, 2005
By 
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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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Friend of Capitalism, October 8, 2005
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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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wake Up Call, October 1, 2005
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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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Battle That Must Be Won, October 18, 2005
By 
Allan S. Roth "dare_to_be_dull" (Colorado Springs, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an investment book, January 9, 2007
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finance, February 18, 2007
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars battle for the soul of capitalism, March 28, 2006
This book alerts the general public to a plague. It is the monstrous swindle perpetrated by a pernicious cabal composed of the following five elements: 1) top management of publicly owned companies, 2) their boards of directors, and their providers of 3) accounting, 4) legal and 5) financial services. This cabal has gotten organized on a grandiose scale only in the last 15 years, and has bilked the owners of publicly owned companies out of five trillion dollars.

The topic is of primary importance, and its importance extends way beyond investors. Thus the book should be read by everyone of the age of majority. It should be read despite the limitations of both the book, and many of the readers (note the other reviews). I own several copies which circulate among friends and colleagues, and now find I need several more.

Limitations of the book: The book is loosely organized, loosely written, primarily qualitative, insufficiently enumerative, and weak on solutions. It does not emphasize that the swindle usually requires the collusion of all five elements. The book addresses almost only those swindles that have operated within the confines of the law; that is, where the swindlers were getting away with it. The book neglects the enormous reservoir of public information describing the swindlers that have been caught; and when caught, why all five elements are indicted; and when convicted why penalties have been huge. (By my simple, casual count from the daily papers more than a dozen industry groups; and in each group more than a half dozen companies, ten billion dollars in penalties, and a lot of jail time.) The book does not describe the enormous "collateral damage" (ruined companies, their suppliers and customers, corrupted employees, tax evasion, etc.).

Regarding the limitations of the readers: The book does not point out that, for healthy people, self interest is not simply avarice. The book takes no account that many of the readers lack any concept of how modern systems work, despite being surrounded by them (the audio system in church, the electric utility, the air traffic control system, the modern military aircraft, etc.). They don't understand the following four items: 1) the elements required for proper operation (references or measures of goodness, error detectors, measurements of system output, etc.), 2) the guardians of system health and safety (buffering, protection, isolation, etc.), 3) the simple concepts of system stability (e.g. Nyquist, Bode, Evans, Routh/Hurwitz, phase plane, etc.), and especially 4) how the design of these systems evolves. All of these concepts could be made accessible to most readers in a few pages and would allow them to appreciate more fully the plague.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Too True and Too Incomplete, July 2, 2006
By 
John Bogle earned his place on the American Financial scene by giving birth to the Vanguard Funds. These are low cost and for the most part, honestly managed passive funds. In fact, Vanguard sold the first indexed mutual fund which gave investors the ability to participate in the market's growth without paying the exorbitant management fees.

His "Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" clearly describes the symptoms of the ills facing the current world wide capitalist system. His book is divided into three main parts. The first deals with the corruption in corporate executive suite, the second laments the continued shift of equity ownership through institutions rather than individuals, and the third part, castigates the agency failures and conflicts in the mutual fund industry.

While he describes well the agency failures of the CEOs, the institutions, and the mutual fund managers, he misses the overall point and his recommended reforms are anemic.

The pathology that ails the investment and corporate world also ails our medical profession, our government officials, and our religious institutions. Trustworthiness, the right to personal property and transparency are no longer highly valued in our society. Thus, corporate executives, mutual fund managers, physicians, priests, and lawyers no longer feel an obligation to fulfill their duties to those that they are supposed to serve. Private property is no longer held as a sacred right in our legal system, and the "middle class guy", who tries to get ahead by delaying gratification to save for his future, gets hurt the most. Equity mutual funds are his only savings vehicle and when he uses these, he gets robbed by both his fund manager and by the CEOs of the firms that the mutual fund manager buys. It should be no wonder that America's savings rate is negative. One might as well blow it now. The "high net worth" folk have their private banks and account managers to protect them, but the middle class guy does not.

Bogle recommends only weak partial disclosure reforms as a solution. This obviously will not induce mutual fund managers and CEOs to carry out their fiduciary duties to the best of their ability. The only effective elixir is to bring back both public shaming and transparency. A receipt of a unfunded or rigged stock option should land the CEO in jail. The SEC needs to post on its website the compensation of a company's management alongside its financial performance (stock price, revenue and earnings growth, and return on assets. Owners of mutual funds should have access to a full audit trial of every transaction made by the fund. After all, it is their money. As Justice Brandeis said , sunlight is the best disinfectant.

There are too many poor folks in jail and the crooked CEOs, physicians, mutual fund managers, and clergy generally ride freely in their expensive cars even though they have done more human damage than those who are currently in the prisons.

I think that Bogle is well intentioned. However, he is much like the father of a wayward son. He cannot see the problem clearly, and his love for the industry stops him from recommending effective reforms.

This book should be read by those who will rely on their 401k plans to finance their retirement. If the holders of 401k plans do not unite and demand more from both corporate managements and portfolio, there is no chance that necessary reforms will become reality.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobel Prize Material--Final Review, December 13, 2007
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This book is a work of genius and integrity, with the potential to catalyze Wall Street into fulfilling the promise of moral capitalism and community ownership.

Here are some highlights from my flyleaf notes:

+ America is no longer an ownership society--financial intermediaries "own" everyting and the individual owners are passive

+ We can find the wisdom and will to restore moral capitalism

+ Earnings have been manipulated and misrepresented.

+ Executive compensation plus lax accounting and the fiction of quarterly earnings versus actual cash flow have hollowed industry out.

+ Profound conflict of interest exist across all fronts

+ Fund managers have siphoned off one fifth of the gross value of the funds.

+ Our business world chose the wrong bottom line, and ignored the importance of sustaining human, social, and community capital

+ Stock options aqre out of control.

Seven specific Conference Board suggestions:

1) Corporate citizenship

2) Separate ownership from management

3) Fix the stock option mess

4) Pay on performance not peers

5) Return to long-term focus

6) Let sunlight shine on accounting

7) New mindset for Board (aggresive stewardship)

Page 103: "Investment America went wrong, then, because in the contagious enthusiasm of the day, financial engineering and manufactured earnings became the coin of the valuation realm, accepted by corporate managers and investment managers alike. What is more, the emphasis on short-term price came to overwhelm the reality of long-term value, as investors failed to honor the distinction between investment and speculation drawn by John Maynard Keynes six decades earlier."

In my view, this book, and three others, should comprise the Christmas reading list for all adults:
Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

I am personally committed to the non-violent legal ethical overthrow of the existing pathologically inept federal government and its politcal leaders in both Congress and the Executive who lack morality, intelligence, integrity, or conscience. Dick Cheney, not George Bush (a village idiot) is their poster child. I find it truly gratifying that a man of such financial stature as John Bogle now articulates and inspires the remorse that Wall Street must feel for running the Earth into the ground.

Below are other books I recommend as a reading list toward November, five about the bad, five about the promise:

The Bad (see my reviews):
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin

The Good (see my reviews):
The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda For Business Leaders
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

God Bless America. We can unite and fix this. Check out Reuniting America (Unity 08 is a fraud, the last gasp of the spoils system).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars StockOwners versus StockHolders - a fight with serious consequences, November 30, 2005
By 
In a very thorough, well-researched account of "investor" inactivity with respect to shareholder rights, Bogle frames that problem as indication of the fight for the soul of capitalism itself. While that premise is lofty and seemingly too idealistic, it is well argued (and convincingly). Interspersing his philosophies with ample quotes from Benjamin Graham, references to Buffet, and Morningstar's and other independent research, Bogle explains how investment banking community, trading firms, and mutual fund firms have prospered far beyond the "shareholders" themselves. The discussion on mutual funds and expense ratios is a particularly attention-grabbing discussion.

While the book is not exactly "weekend reading material", any serious investor should certainly read this. The book does have an academic tone, but that is mostly due to the tons of research quoted by the author to buttress his well-articulated positions. Anyone with some exposure to mutual funds will find this book to add new (and startling at times) insights into how the financial firms actually function. A good read.
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The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism by John C. Bogle (Hardcover - November 1, 2005)
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