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The Little Book of Alternative Investments: Reaping Rewards by Daring to be Different Hardcover – March 29, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a great little book for investors who are trying to improve their asset allocation. Lots of meat and fun to read."
--Brenda Jubin, Ph.D., Seeking Alpha

"Chock full of easy to digest information, useful advice, specific fund recommendations and it is a hoot and a holler to read. Not a dull page in it. And it will tell you just about everything you need to know about these essential alternative investment portfolio diversifiers." -- Consuelo Mack, WealthTrack

“The authors give an uncommonly clear account of the desirable alternatives, especially hedge funds. This is a great little book for investors who are trying to improve their asset allocation. Lots of meat and fun to read.”
—Seeking Alpha

From the Inside Flap

Are you underwhelmed with the way your traditional 60/40 portfolio has been performing lately and wondering why? Do you suspect there might be better ways to invest your money, but aren't sure what they are? What about all those "alternative" investments you keep hearing so much about in the media, such as commodities, real estate, emerging market funds, and, of course, that darling of pirates, Medieval monarchs, and radio talk-show hosts everywhere: gold? And how about the legion of new financial products Wall Street keeps spawning like kudzu—exotic creatures with strange-sounding names like "replicants," "100/30s," and "buy/write" funds? How do they work, and do any of them make sense for you?

The Little Book of Alternative Investments gives you complete, detailed answers to all those questions—and a whole lot more. Like a pair of trusty native guides, bestselling investment authors Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth clear a path through the alternative investments jungle. They identify the flora and fauna, stopping along the way to tell you which ones are safe to consume and which ones will consume you, if given half a chance. And they explain in plain English, not Wall Street Swahili, how each product or class of products works (or doesn't work), and how each can be used to help you reduce risk and boost returns.

Just as important, if not more so, Ben and Phil arm you with proven portfolio management strategies that take full advantage of the best of the best alternative products out there. No matter what your budget, level of experience, or tolerance for risk, you'll discover how to use everything from REITs and futures to hedge funds and hedge fund-like mutual funds to shield your money from the bubble-and-bust, hurly-burly of the markets and come out ahead, in all economic climates.

Making the technical simple, the arcane accessible, and the dry laugh-out-loud funny, The Little Book of Alternative Investments is your guide to taming the alternative investments jungle and cultivating an investment portfolio that consistently delivers better-than-market risk-adjusted performance.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470920041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470920046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

They also give you their picks for accessible ETN's and ETF's to construct your alternative portfolio.
Michael C
Fortunately, authors Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth come to the rescue with their latest collaboration titled "The Little Book of Alternative Investments."
Philip Stein
If it was all easy you would already know it and learning this stuff will make you smarter than any talking head on CNBC.
Buba

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Most of us want to be rich. We believe that the rich know some secret that the rest of us don't. Much like they believe that someone who plays the piano well has some kind of special gift that frees them from the thousands of hours of hard practice that we normal people have to put in to develop what skill we have. This despite research paper after doctoral thesis after peer reviewed article that demonstrates that they way to do well with investments is to put as much money as you can into a range of index funds in equities and bonds over a long period of time.

But we know there are traders who make untold millions engaging in activities and strategies more active than that. Can't we learn them and tap into that ocean of wealth? You know, can't we just dip our toe into the vast ocean of dollars flowing through the markets and get to easy street faster and get a better address?

This interesting, informative, and entertaining book by Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth gives you a tour of Alternative Investments. That is things to invest in and investment strategies other than the standard 60/40 stock fund / bond fund mix you have been used to. While they cover the basic strategies in the brief introduction, I encourage you to also purchase and read the authors' "The Little Book of Alternative Investments" The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing: Do's and Don'ts to Protect Your Financial Life (Little Books. Big Profits)to get a good grounding on sound investment strategy and why it is sound. Then come back to this book so you can step off the safe and well marked path and wander deeper into the investment casino.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jason on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Little book of alternative Investments is not for the little guy. The book contains some useful discussion, but largely it was a waste of money - Average investors get no help here. Yes, the "book" is about alternative investments, but an overwhelming part of discussion addresses hedge funds. Message to Ben and Phil: To invest in hedge funds, one has to be an accredited investor which means individual investor net worth, or joint net worth with the person's spouse, must exceed $1 million. As well, accredited investor income must be at minimum, $200,000 in each of the two most recent years, or joint income with a spouse must exceed $300,000, with a reasonable expectation the same income level will continue. To be fair, on page 113, the authors make a brief reference that "we don't want to forget about the little people." Here, the authors explain how investors who are not accredited can participate by purchasing a hedge fund "fund of funds", which is a mutual fund, and to their credit, they mention that those investing in such mutual funds will need to pay another layer of fees, on top of what the hedge funds managers' charge. I bought the book based on trust the authors would perform, but was disappointed. Had the book had an index, and if it were available, it would have been a heads-up, not to buy the book.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Buba on March 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading Stein and DeMuth for many years and I have become personally convicted to their philosophy of investing, which continues to progress. I became convinced when I read some stuff by Harry Markowitz. Markowitz had been touted in one of their books. I had been investing for years with typical poor results and the AH-HA moment was to come to the realization that a portfolio need to be managed as a whole, not as a bunch of individual little piles of ideas. It's not own a house, and own some bonds, and own some IBM and GE or Contrafund and on and on, but to view all the "money" you have as a single unit of wealth and then ask the question how do I most efficiently manage this unit. Markowitz's bright idea was to develop an efficient frontier based on optimized risk vs reward for the entire portfolio. This included choosing investments that also managed diversity and cost, and controlling volatility by diversification. By optimizing each investment in the portfolio on a risk adjusted basis and it's correlation to the rest of the instruments in the portfolio the sum of the portfolio became more efficient than the risk reward of each of its parts SHAZAM! More bang for the buck!

The recommendation was then to ditch all the stock pickers and mad money grinners (salesmen one and all, more interested in feathering their nests than yours) for buy and hold passive investments and by proper diversification across the universe you could risk adjust your return. Next Quant was added to the mix. Monte Carlo engines that would run hundreds of scenarios on the instruments in the portfolio varying first this and that and then spreading out the most probable outcome and the standard deviation of other outcomes and listing them in order of likelihood.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In this latest installment in the "Little Book" series, Stein and DeMuth do a decent job of making the sometimes Byzantine world of alternative investment strategies accessible to the average retail investor. There is a secretive, carefully-crafted mystique that pervades the world of alternative investments, and the authors hack through this hype to explain the nuts and bolts of what hedge funds, commodities traders, and other alternatives managers actually do. They then offer readers cheaper "do it yourself" alternatives ranging from new mutual fund and ETF products that mirror hedge fund strategies to a portfolio of low-beta, low-correlation common stocks.

Perhaps most importantly, Stein and DeMuth encourage readers to keep alternatives in proper perspective. The core of most investors' portfolios should be an allocation to stocks and bonds. Alternatives can add diversification benefits and can enhance returns. But most alternatives strategies will not be sufficient alone or even jointly as a portfolio.

In his typical dry sense of humor, Stein writes, "it has been observed that polygamy is a crime that is its own punishment. However, the opposite is true when it comes to investing. You want to have your lawfully married wife--the 60/40 [stock/bond] portfolio, as it were--but then you want to have as many mistresses as you can, in the form of diversifying, uncorrelated assets. Sure, the 60/40 will be jealous that you are spending your money elsewhere, but you will be happier and richer as a result."

Overall, I consider this a decent effort and a worthwhile read for a retail investor with unanswered questions about the world of alternative investments.
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