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A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Eighth Edition) Hardcover – April 17, 2003

78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The eternal truth of this updated investment classic, originally published in 1973, is simple: you can't beat the market. Well, technically, you can beat the market, but not profitably, because the transaction costs of your brilliant trading will eat up the extra returns. You can also beat the market by pure luck-but you can't deliberately beat the market, because you can't predict future stock prices. You can't predict them by divining Wall Street's crowd psychology; or by charting trends in stock prices; or by doing lots of research on companies' business prospects. You can't predict them from hemlines (though there's been "some evidence" for correlation between skirt length and market prices in the past, Malkiel poo-poos future possibilities) or Super Bowl winners (this, he says, makes "no sense"). In fact, according to the efficient market theory, which states that all knowable information about a stock's value is already reflected in its share price, you can't predict them at all. Malkiel, a Princeton economist and professional investor, backs it all up with statistics, charts and studies, and gives an entertaining review of the sorry history of market bubbles, panics and delusions of omniscience, from the Dutch tulip craze to the Beardstown Ladies. This edition looks at new wrinkles (it seems you can't beat the market by buying companies with ".com" in the name), and provides a lucid overview of novel investment vehicles. Standing by his notorious claim that "a blindfolded chimpanzee throwing darts" at the NYSE listings could pick stocks as well as the Wall Street pros, Malkiel advises investors to "buy and hold" a diversified portfolio heavy on index funds that passively mirror the market, which usually out-perform actively managed funds. His witty, acerbic style and persuasive arguments will delight readers but, alas, leave Wall Street unmoved.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This revision of a classic takes the dot-com implosion into account.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Eighth Edition edition (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057829
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 140 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a nutshell Malkiel's advice is to own your own home, buy no-load index funds (equities and bonds), buy international index funds, and mix your investments according to your age. You should also have medical and plain term life insurance, and cash on hand for a few months in case of an emergency. This book is a complete course in how to manage your money effectively, whether you're a millionaire or a low-income earner. It also gently but firmly chastises proponents of get-rich-quick schemes such as day traders.
First, the book explains what is financial risk, and points out that everything is risky, even insured savings accounts since inflation can destroy the value of cash. Malkiel describes just how risky various investments are, and how the risk is one investment is often offset by the risk in another. Second, Malkiel describes a variety of specific investments (e.g. no load index funds, your own home, individual stocks) and suggests how individual investors should mix them, depending on their personal circumstances. For instance, an ambitious young woman in her twenties can consider aggressive high-risk high-growth funds. If they boom, she's rich, if they bust she's young enough to recover her losses through income. This would not be true of a middle-aged couple about to pay for their children's college years.
"A Random Walk Down Wall Street" should be in every family's library.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Hinkle Goldfarb on January 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mr. Malkiel provides an outstanding all-in-one stock book for the educated but non-technical investor. He includes overviews of the financial, economic and psychological foundations for stock markets, as well as entertaining summaries of the history of stock markets in the world and in the U.S. Mr. Malkiel takes a sensible, long-term approach to investing with stocks and bonds, at the same time pouring cold water on various market theories. He approvingly quotes the phrase "the stock market is like a casino in which the odds are rigged in favor of the player" which is probably the best summing-up I've ever encountered when thinking about stocks. Some of his more salient and direct advice includes these gems:

* "A simple 'buy-and-hold' strategy typically makes as much or more money than technical strategies" (p 151).

* "No technical scheme whatever could work for any length of time and ...even if they did work, the schemes would be bound to destroy themselves" (p 167).

* Regularities in stock market movements are arbitraged away over time; whoever spots such a regularity would not tell everyone else, but instead would keep it to him- or herself to get rich (p 168).

* Many analysts are incompetent or are compromised by institutional conflicts of interest (pp 181, 183).

* "The evidence from several studies is remarkably uniform. Investors have done no better with the average mutual fund than they could have done by purchasing and holding an unmanaged broad stock index" (p 187).

* Don't ignore small cap companies: "smaller firms tend to have higher rates of return" (p 239).

* Investors should look for stocks with relatively low P/E ratios and low values relative to their book values (pp 239, 261).
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123 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Wolfinger on May 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A Random Walk takes the reader on a path from the point of view of an academic, rather than that of a trader. That is sufficient to make this book different from most other stock market tomes. Malkiel's premise is that neither the the average investor nor the professional trader can expect to perform better that the "market" over any significant period of time. He considers market events to be random, and thus unpredictable. He offers piles of data to support his contentions, and his arguments are compelling.
Yet, those who trade using technical analysis scoff at books such at this, claiming their systems consistently beat the averages. The author points to the fact that most managers of mutual funds, pensions etc. fail to perform better than index funds and Malkiel recommends that public investors place their investment money into broad based index funds. The S&P 500 Index fund is recommended, as it is unrealistic to expect fund managers to perform better.
This classic has been around for 30 years and this revised edition is worth your time, especially if you have never read an earlier edition. Just be aware that many technical traders consider this to be a work of fiction.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Rey Moore on July 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying this book is an absolute must-read for anybody interested in the stock market and their potential to succeed in it! With that said, this should NOT be the only book on the subject you read. Written by an academic, Random Walk is highly biased towards the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which although important to be aware of, must be understood in its appropriate context (one of many different models of how the market MIGHT work).

If you do read this book you'll receive a valuable financial history lesson exposing you to many of the financial irrationalities of the past (most recently the dot-com bubble) -- this alone makes the book well worth buying!

You'll also receive an introduction to the various forms (three are presented) of the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Without getting into specifics, the EMH discounts an individual's ability to outperform the market by assuming that all publicly available news/information on a company has already been factored into a stock's price. The implication being that by the time you hear about a company's latest developments it's too late to use this information to your advantage.

Although the EMH is important to be aware of, it's also important to realize that not everybody who's trading stocks subscribes to it or accepts it as part of their trading philosophy. You might consider flipping through The Alchemy of Finance after finishing Random Walk to read the opinion of someone who subscribes to a very different trading philosophy!

Bottom line:

Random Walk is one of the "classics" that anybody who is serious about the stock market will have read; however, limiting your financial education to just this book would be a very poor idea!
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