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You can't win if you don't play
on July 14, 2013
Although I feel a bit as though this book states the obvious and does so repetitively, I still rank it as above average. That's because I think a little sobriety and common sense can go a long way in today's investment world, and this book has a lot of potential to be helpful to investors just starting out or who still have a long timeline before retirement. The title suggests that the author is going to give readers a guide for how to "beat" the market, but indeed, that is the anti-thesis of this book. In fact, the author admits that investing is a loser's game and there is no way to beat the market. His strategy is simply, you can't beat `em, so you should join `em. And how should you do that? With index funds. The plain white toast of the investment world is this book's simple strategy for winning the loser's game, and the author trots out lots of heavyweight facts and figures in chapter after chapter, with the bottom line of: you could have done this, and it might have made you rich, or it might not have, but if you had indexed, you'd be doing okay.
Nothing new, nothing exciting, but easy enough to implement and compelling enough to want to. In the world of investing, the new offense may well be a sound defense, and this book will certainly convince most intelligent investors of that fact. I've been indexing for years and I know I'm better off than most investors in my age group. At the very least, I haven't stayed up at night regretting or fretting about investment decisions, and I don't worry (yet) about running out of money, so I can't argue with the author's premise. This book is well written, well organized, well thought out, and I'll say it again, compelling. Some readers may balk at a whole book about an idea as simple as "buy index funds", but maybe that's what it takes to convince you. And while it's true that you can't lose the game if you don't play, you can't win either, and in the end, it's better to have a safe if somewhat slow strategy than no strategy at all.
I recommend this book to anyone who invests in their future. It can't hurt you as an investor, and it might help make you a better (if slightly stodgy) one.
Note: The publisher provided me with a gratis copy of the book for purposes of this review.