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The Permanent Portfolio: Harry Browne's Long-Term Investment Strategy Hardcover – October 9, 2012

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The Permanent Portfolio: Harry Browne's Long-Term Investment Strategy + Fail-Safe Investing: Lifelong Financial Security in 30 Minutes + How You Can Profit From The Coming Devaluation
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118288254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118288252
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Life is uncertain and that includes the financial markets. The fact is that when investing in the real world, you need to be prepared for surprises. So why not use an investment approach that takes this into consideration?

A few decades ago, the late Harry Browne—a successful financial advisor and author—created an ingenious investing strategy that did just this. The "Permanent Portfolio," as it is known, was not designed around predicting the future or outsmarting other investors. Instead, it embraced the idea of the unpredictable, the unknowable, and the surprising. Now, authors Craig Rowland and J. M. Lawson add their own experience and insights to this strategy to help you invest and save in a way that will allow you to safely reach your financial goals.

While the approach may appear simple, it is far from simplistic. It actually reflects a sophisticated understanding of economics and financial history and explores ideas about diversification that you may not have come across before. At the basic level, it's just four investment asset classes—stocks, bonds, cash, and gold. This book will show you how to effectively implement the permanent portfolio using such assets and how to avoid investing mistakes that are extremely expensive.

Along the way, you'll discover different implementation options that can fit any situation, and also be exposed to important issues associated with this discipline including storing part of your life savings in a foreign account to protect against natural or manmade disasters. Common pitfalls in the investing world are also covered, from the risk associated with active management and investment industry costs to dangerous biases in what passes for conventional investment wisdom and how to enjoy investing instead of constantly being concerned about it.

You don't need a complicated investment strategy to do well in the markets, you need the right investment strategy. The Permanent Portfolio still remains one of the most effective investment approaches you'll ever encounter. Designed to work under any economic condition, it will put you in a better position to prosper— all with less risk, less management, and less costs than more complicated strategies out there.

From the Back Cover

"The Permanent Portfolio is an easy-to-access how-to manual. . . . This book doesn't just cover the theories behind this method; it also gives details for putting the theories to work in the real world."
—From the Foreword by J.D. Roth

No mattter how hard you try, market uncertainty cannot be eliminated. So rather than attempt to do away with it, why not embrace it? That's what the "Permanent Portfolio"—developed a few decades ago by the late Harry Browne, a successful financial advisor and author—was designed to do.

Authors Craig Rowland and J. M. Lawson understand the intricacies of this approach. And with this new book, they not only put them in perspective, but also add their own experience and insights to this proven strategy. Written in a straightforward and accessible style, this reliable guide will put you in a better position to invest and save in a way that will allow you to safely reach your financial goals.

Along the way, it takes you through every step of the process, and reveals how to set up and maintain your permanent portfolio. Topics touched upon include everything from diversification of asset mix and performance to investing and taxes.

If you're looking to build a better portfolio without the stress that usually comes along with this endeavor, then look no further than The Permanent Portfolio.

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Customer Reviews

Overall, the Permanent Portfolio strategy is quite simple.
Paul Woods
The authors do an excellent job of explaining their allocation strategy and give very explicit recommendations for implementing it.
Charles T. Grant
This book is well written and has all the information you need to understand and implement this easy and safe portfolio.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By William Bernstein on September 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
First, I need to get my own personal biases out in the open: I think that the Harry Browne Permanent Portfolio (HBPP) is a highly unconventional but effective low-risk, low-return portfolio.

I also believe that very few of its new fans will have the long-term discipline to stick with it when two of its riskiest and least conventional components, long Treasuries and gold, underperform, as they inevitably must at some point. I'm not speculating in a vacuum here: the HBPP was similarly quite popular in the 1980s, and this caused a torrent of inflow to the Permanent Portfolio Fund (PRPFX), which uses a similar strategy. This was followed by a headlong rush out of PRPFX during the 1990s, as interest shifted back into stocks. In the wake of the recent crisis and market crash, PRPFX once again is on the receiving end of high inflows.

I'm even willing to bet that a significant number of 80s HBPP fans got reincarnated as 90s paradigmistas. We've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends, both for PRPFX and, presumably, interest in the HBPP.

With that caveat in mind, The Permanent Portfolio is a beautifully written, comprehensive guide to anyone who wants to deploy the late Mr. Browne's teachings. The author lays out the rationale and mechanics of the portfolio well enough that readers won't fall asleep (no small feat for a book on portfolio theory), and describes in detail the nuts and bolts of deploying the portfolio.Simply put, it's the best book I've seen on the HBPP, better even than Harry's 1999 classic, Fail-Safe Investing.

The chapter on the rationales for buying gold, and the mechanics specific to each goal, is worth the price of the book alone. Even if you're a gold skeptic like me, you'll learn a great deal about the global marketplaces for the yellow metal. You may even find yourself imagining you're on the last train out of St. Petersberg in 1917 or Berlin in 1939.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ad Orientem on October 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First the obligatory disclaimers... I was already familiar with and sold on the Permanent Portfolio strategy before reading the book. Secondly I have had the honor of corresponding with both of the authors and am a semi-regular contributor at Craig Rowland's online discussion forum for the Permanent Portfolio.

Now for the book (this is for the book version). I found the work to be well written with concise and cogent arguments backed by a level of data and empirical evidence that makes a compelling case for the late Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio approach to investing. Even for those who may not be ready to buy into the actual 4x25% asset allocations I believe the book makes an overwhelming case for a passive approach to investing, and broad diversification across differing asset classes. The former point will be appealing to indexers and bogleheads. But the second point is just as critical. Because the future is unpredictable and having a portfolio that can withstand the shock of unexpected events is imperative to peace of mind and financial security.

There are so many sound pieces of advice and good axioms for investing that I would still be typing come Christmas were I to list them all. But I wish to draw particular attention to the chapters that deal with the subjects of investing in gold and geographic diversification of assets. Gold is a controversial subject that tends to produce heated opinions with few people taking a neutral approach. The authors however approach gold in a thorough but dispassionate manner, making a strong case for why it works as part of a diversified portfolio even as they avoid any emotional attachment to it. Gold as they explain, is just an asset class which protects you in a specific set of conditions, most importantly inflation.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Woods on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first found out about Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio strategy about a year ago after becoming completely fed up with conventional investing wisdom and the seeming randomness of the markets. The Permanent Portfolio was like a breath of fresh air: an acknowledgement that nobody can predict the future, and an investing strategy that embraces that unpredictability rather than doubling-down on the best guesses of the various so-called gurus out there. It just makes so much sense.

I read the Kindle version of "The Permanent Portfolio", after having read Harry Browne's "Fail Safe Investing" many months ago, visiting the author's forum at several times a week over the past year, and doing my own research along the way. So I felt that I was fairly well-versed in the general principles of the strategy before reading the book, but certainly wouldn't claim to have deep knowledge in each of the asset classes discussed (stocks, bonds, cash, and gold).

Given that context, I found "The Permanent Portfolio" to be an excellent introduction to the strategy. The text is well-written and very easy to read with a more casual tone than other investing books I've read in the past. It should be easy to understand for most people with a little bit of investing experience but complete newcomers to investing might need something more basic. Though I already have experience with the Permanent Portfolio and was familiar with much of the material, I did manage to find a few valuable nuggets in each chapter and especially welcomed the chapter on options for geographic diversification.

Overall, the Permanent Portfolio strategy is quite simple.
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