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Bull: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004 Paperback – October 12, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Financial journalist Mahar offers a thorough and accessible history of the explosive 1982-1999 bull market that is illuminating as well as sobering from the current bear market perspective. She notes that most people swept up in the euphoria of this latest market surge failed to recall the lessons of 1929-1934 and 1970-1974, when earlier bubbles collapsed and investors lost heavily. Citing studies by esteemed economists John Kenneth Galbraith and Charles Kindleberger, Mahar reminds readers that this self-blinding euphoria is a regular feature of every bull market. In vivid detail, she documents the trends and outsized personalities that fueled this particular bull market, including the surge of leveraged buyouts of 1984-1987, the mania for junk bonds, falling short-term interest rates, the rush of individual investors into 401(k) retirement plans, the power (and appetites) of mutual funds and the media frenzy that lent an unlikely allure to quarterly corporate earnings reports. As the runup in stock prices gained momentum in the late 1990s while evidence of corporate accounting shenanigans mounted, Mahar's account assumes the compelling power of an oncoming train wreck. Survivors of the recent market meltdown can profit from Mahar's assertion: "Ultimately, secular bear markets teach investors to learn to manage risk in a different way, focusing not on the odds, but on the size of risk." Individual investors will also gather that they need to be more skeptical of some sources of "information" and to be much better informed not to be burned again. Charts.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mahar, a journalist, explores the intrigue and implications of the famous 1982-99 bull market. We are introduced to money managers, stock analysts, and market timers who played critical roles, as well as an unprecedented number of average men and woman (called "main street investors") who poured their retirement savings into mutual funds--money most of them could not afford to lose. Small investors were not advised of the inherent risks in their investments, says Mahar, and the media hype was so great and the news was so good that thousands upon thousands gave Wall Street their confidence. The book concludes with the author's thoughts on topics such as the "buy and hold" strategy; managing risk in a bear market; strategic market timing; and commodities, gold, and the dollar. The 1982-99 run of the bulls on Wall Street was part of a longer cycle that governs the stock market, and Mahar teaches many valuable lessons in this excellent history and analysis. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
"History does not repeat, it rhymes." I forget who said that, but it is true. Learn about the boom/bust cycles and you can profit from them when they return. Understand the cycles and maybe when the music stops you wont be the only one without a chair.
If you think the people on Wall Street are your friends, if you think CNBC is giving you good advice, if you think your 401k is a safe investment, even if you think the stock market outperforms every investment over the long run, then you really should read this book.
I particularly liked the use of headlines of the day, quotes from people of the times, and so on, because I remember lots of them from living through it. Looking back, it's like the bull market was a hurricane, sucking up huge amounts of money from junk bonds, from corporate accounting manipulations, and from individual investors to feed the storm. And to last for 20 years, even when people knew it was going to eventually pop -- wow.
Recommended, definitely. (But not to picky academics, historians, or economists; this is a book that laymen can understand and enjoy, because of the superb writing style.)
She outlines various causes of bull markets and bear markets. She analyzes investor behaviors in each part of the cycle and outlines some eery commonalities between the various events.
I believe that this book is well worth the money because it teaches you some things to look for in both bull and bear markets. She gives the names of people who strategically position themselves out of the wall street mentality and give their honest sell and buy recommendations when the market is under or over valued. I think for the few dollars you spend on this book, you might save a lot more money timing your buys and sells based on what Mahar says in this book.
I didn't give this a 5 star rating because I didn't think it was a 5 star book in my opinion.
However, I still believe its a must read book to gain some more investing knowledge.
There's lots of interesting historical annecdotes included:
1) The bears who get killed for mistiming their predictions. (The bull isn't done until the last bear is gored)
2) How the Blodgets of the world were created by a system that encouraged cooking the books and an abdication of responsibility. (Mahar covers the laws that created this environment, and those politicians that pushed for them)
3) The ups and down of particular investors as they deal with the bull and inevitable bear.
In addition, several insights come out:
1) Buy and Hold Equities isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
2) Not everyone belongs in the market. Indeed, many investing professionals make their money on Wall Street, but invest it on Main Street. (Harder to lose money on a house)
3) Decreasing spending or increasing earning potential can go a long way.
4) It is easier to pick trends than timing them.
There are a couple attacks on her thinking:
1) She cites the virtues of market timing, but market timing really isn't that easy. If it were, we'd all be doing it.
2) She cites many folks who called the end of the bull right. In a sea of information overload, it isn't that easy to find these people and understand their arguments. (There's always convincing bears)
3) There are many instances of "If you only followed Xs advice from Day Y..." which is tough to check. Is that a valid trend, or are the dates (especially the end dates) picked just to amplify a point? (It's always possible to find a 5, 10 or 20 year period to prove a point)
That said, the book is an important one, both from a historical point of view, and to improve one's investing.