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Searching for ALPHA: The Quest for Exceptional Investment Performance Hardcover – May 5, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471348228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471348221
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,061,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Can anyone win the investing game? Considering the small number of mutual funds that produce market-beating returns, the task may seem nearly impossible. Even so, there remains an elite group of investment professionals who manage to produce market-beating returns, year after year. What is their edge?

Their edge is defined as alpha-which represents the portion of an investment fund's return that is generated solely by the skills of the portfolio manager. Investors, traders, and speculators alike have searched for a dependable source of alpha for as long as there have been financial markets.

How much of this search is art, and how much is science? The answer to this and other questions can be found within this provocative and highly entertaining book. Some of the topics covered in Searching for Alpha include the following:
* The three reasons why the mutual fund industry will always underperform the overall stock market
* The well-known economist who, by comparing the stock market to a "beauty contest," made a fortune as a speculator
* How a highly successful football betting scheme can be utilized to profitably trade stocks
* How to profit from the idiosyncrasies of human behavior
* What the waxing-and-waning tendency of oil wells can tell us about the impact of technology on the investment management industry
* The commonalities between catching monkeys in India and avoiding taxes on investments in the United States
* The profit potential of value stocks for the next decade

Say goodbye to dry investment theory and hello to a rich and wonderful cast of characters. Who can resist the one-armed mechanic who single-handedly changed the business of U.S. oil production, or the pacifist who pioneered the explosives industry? Where else could you find the likes of Beethoven, Dom Perignon, and the mathematician who stopped Napoleon's advancing army dead in its tracks? Searching for Alpha cleverly combines these colorful figures with cutting-edge financial theories, bringing both to life in a refreshingly educational manner.
www.SearchingForAlpha.com
Jacket Design: Andy Liefer

From the Back Cover

"A provocative, witty, and meaningful book. Searching for Alpha iseminently readable. I highly recommend it!"-Dr. Martin Zweig,Zweig-DiMenna Associates

"Searching for Alpha is right on the mark and essential reading foranyone who wants to go beyond stock-picking and think about how toconstruct a total portfolio to fit their own risk and returnobjectives."-Bluford H. Putnam, President, CDC InvestmentManagement Corp.

"Searching for Alpha is as instructional as it is entertaining. BenWarwick's engaging examination of the modern investment process issuccinct yet thorough, and cleverly interspersed with amusingfacts, anecdotes, and historical insights . . . a charming bookwith lots of insight for both the novice and theprofessional."-Mark Kritzman, Managing Partner, Windham CapitalManagement, author, Puzzles of Finance

"Searching for Alpha is a wild and entertaining read that justhappens to be an investment book. Along the way, you'll read aboutthe Civil War, the origin of professional football, and evenwhaling-and by the time you're through, you'll know more about theinvestment game than you ever imagined."-Jeremy Pink,Editor-in-Chief, worldlyinvestor.com

"An erudite, well-written, and interesting book-with the addedadvantage of being right! The theory is state-of-the-art; thepractice is very much current. Warwick has a special talent forhistorical analogy and storytelling."-Theodore R. Aronson, Partner,Aronson & Partners

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Customer Reviews

Excellent, yet easy read.
Volker Engelbert
Warwick is incrediblly knowledgeable about the subject of investing, and as an Investment Advisor, my Investment Policy will be greatly enhanced having read this book.
F. Norfleet Abston
Congratulations it is about time someone came out with this book.
Dave Jacobs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Sturges on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being in the asset management consulting field I thought this highly recommended title should be as insightful as Swensen's "Pioneering Portfolio Management". I found it directionless, full of unconnected pointless anecdotal comments, as well as giving misleading shallow guidance regarding indexing.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I suspect that when Ben Warwick sat down to write this book he had no good idea of his intended audience. There are three very different audiences for works on finance. There are ordinary folks, who work for wages or salary, have built up a modest nest, and want some rise-averse suggestions on how to invest it. Then there are people with enough money to get more daring with it, or at least with some portion of their portfolio. This second group, the so-called "sophisticated investors," are the ones who are literally looking for alpha.

Then there is a third group, those whose concern with matters of finance is mostly intellectual. They may want supplemental reading for a college course, or they may be life-long sufferers from curiosity, or even Washingtonian policy wonks.

My point is -- a focused book begins with a decision as to one's audience. Warwick never makes that decision, there are bits and pieces of this book for all three, but a satisfactory whole just isn't here for anybody.

The book is also error prone. Consider the very first graph, on page 5. The caption tells us, "The part of the curve extending from point A and above designates the optimum return for a given amount of risk." But the above graph doesn't contain ANY POINT A! One can figure it out eventually, where point A should be. But the value of a well-drafted graph is that it gives us a sense of certain relationships at a glance. So this sort of mistake -- one example of many, is devastating.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By George A Hayes on June 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A terrific read! Searching For Alpha is intelligent, well written and very timely. Author Ben Warwick has a gift for weaving people, anecdotes and financial theory into a fascinating history of the investment business.
I really enjoyed the chapters describing the rise in popularity of mutual funds and indexing. Also, the sections devoted to managed futures and investors' irrational behavior were particularly worthwhile. The book is easy-to-read yet offers important financial insights that are regularly ignored by the mass media.
You won't get rich quick or make a million dollars in real estate with "no money down", but you're bound to become a more savvy and successful investor by reading Warwick's book. Searching For Alpha is simply the best of the myriad of investment books to hits the bookshelves in recent years.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By F. Norfleet Abston on December 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ben Warwick has done an exceptionally good job at taking a subject (Investment Policy) that to most readers is maybe dry, and unexciting and making it a highly enjoyable subject about which to read. Interlaced among truly entertaining stories and anectdotes ranging from the discoverery of nitroglycerine to the life of Ludwig van Beethoven are well-researched, sound, quite readable discussions and theories about Index-based Investing, Capital Asset Pricing Model, Modern Portfolio Theory, Managed Futures and much, much more. Warwick is incrediblly knowledgeable about the subject of investing, and as an Investment Advisor, my Investment Policy will be greatly enhanced having read this book.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Betty on June 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An easily readable and interesting book about problems and opportunities when trying to exceed average investment performance in a nearly efficient market. As an individual investor, I got a few interesting general insights about the investment climate in which I am competing.
But ultimately, I found the book frustrating and rambling. Ideas in one section do not build on or relate clearly to those in other sections. Investment terms (managed futures, arbitrage, value at risk) are discussed in interesting ways but are not defined or explained in enough detail to make them clear or useful. The book seems to be addressed to people who already know most of the investment management concepts discussed, but then it is unclear why concepts like a normal distribution are explained in the simplest terms possible. The book may appeal to math phobics since the author's dismissive references to "quant jocks" makes me think he leaves all the math and precision thinking to others.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Warwick has done a fair job in tackling a faily in depth and for many, a fairly boring subject. I am a fund manager and don't necessarily enjoy reading such books but do so as it is an occupational requirement.
It is refreshing to read a book that sheds some new light on the subject often with a touch of humor so lacking in other books written by intectuals who: 1. Have never traded or managed money before yet believe they are qualified to discuss certain subjects in depth 2. Confuse their talent with their ego.
Warrick does not make any pretence that this book is directed at a certain market. However, for those who manage money professionally and are ethical enough to actually work in the best ineterests of their clients, read this book. You'll find it both entertainig, and refreshig.
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