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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 28 reviews
on October 4, 2009
For obvious reasons i.e. "how did we get into this mess", the origins of finance have come under scrutiny. This book provides an excellent historical perspective. It is not a heavy mathematical read, but more of a historic narrative, written from the perspective of an expert market practitioner. It leaves off in the late 1990's and therefore does not include the more recent excesses, but is a very good overview of the key developments that is well worth reading, even if you disagree with the direction finance has taken, it is useful to know how it got there.
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on December 4, 2014
This is a very nice book to read. If you are studying investments this will put everything you learn together for you in the time the ideas were developed; the people, the time and the thoughts that have developed some of the market theories to today.
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on December 9, 2014
Really interesting, helps you understand the basics well. Very well written!
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on September 14, 2013
Its a nice book, if you want to know the story behind wall street in a very comprehensible way you need to read this book.
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on July 31, 2013
Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street by Peter Bernstein is a classic with a great historical perspective.
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on January 27, 2010
A very interesting book, if you like books of Richard Dawkins for sure you will love this one.
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"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world....Let those who will, write the nation's laws, if I can write it's textbooks." (P. Samuelson, quoted by Berstein)
Bernstein has written a fascinating pre-LTCM (pre 8/98) book on the history of econometrics and finance, beginning with the origins of the Cowles foundation as the consequence of Cowles' personal interest in the question: Are stock prices predictable? This book is all about heroes and heroic ideas, and Bernstein's heroes are Adam Smith, Batchelier, Cowles, Markowitz (and Roy), Sharpe, Arrow and Debreu, Samuelson, Fama, Tobin, Samuelson, Markowitz, Miller and Modigliani, Treynor, Samuelson, Osborne, Wells-Fargo Bank (McQuown, Vertin, Fouse and the origin of index funds), Ross, Black, Scholes, and Merton. The final heroes (see ch. 14, The Ultimate Invention) are the inventors of (synthetic) portfolio insurance (replication/synthetic options).
This book consists largely of a pre-LTCM (pre-10/98) cheerleading for option-pricing mathematics based on lognormality, and corresponding synthetic portfolio insurance. Osborne and Mandelbrot are mentioned. The book is not error-free: e.g., Mandelbrot's ideas on stock prices are stated as being the origin of chaos theory (!), and Mandelbrot (of random fractals fame) is misportrayed as an `articulate proponent' of chaos theory! Another error (page 182): "..persistent forces are constantly driving the market toward (Modigliani-Miller) equilibrium." The evidence for the EMH is supposed to constitute the `proof' for this nonsense. So much for `proofs' in economics. So ingrained is the false, misleading and inapplicable notion of "equilibrium" in the minds of economists that it is hopeless to expect to educate them out of their own morass. Even Black, who was educated as a physicist as an undergrad, did no better:
"When people are seeking profits, equilibrium will prevail." (F. Black, quoted by Bernstein)
Among the interesting and entertaining stories that are told are: the displacement of Graham and Dodd's `value theory' by the EMH, the revolutionary role played by Wells Fargo Bank in using the `new finance math', and in creating index funds. The importance of the Miller-Modigliani `theorem, which `proved' that the (not-uniquely-defined) `value' of a corporation is independent of it's debt. Then, there is the wild-haired idea of `portfolio insurance', how to eat your cake and have it too (a free lunch, derived from the assumption that free lunches don't exist). No portfolio can be insured against extreme deviations, especially those that occurred in 10/87 and wiped out confidence in LOR (Leland-O'Brien-Rubinstein Associates). But this failure of finance theory produces no crisis for Bernstein, whose book is the history of heroes, not villains. His last chapter, which can be ignored by the reader without loss, is states his ideology: free market ueber Alles. Or: equilibrium will prevail, even without restoring forces ( I like to put it this way: there are no "springs" in the market). I did get something important from this book: the origin of America's spend-spend-spend ideology in the Modigliani-Miller `theorem'.
If the optimal portfolio is not risky enough, borrow to finance it's purchase. (Wells Fargo's application of Tobin's idea, quoted by Bernstein)
(This is a shorter version of a longer review that appeared in fall(...).
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on August 19, 2016
Need to finish it to give a better review.
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on July 12, 2015
Can't wait to read it.
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on July 18, 2007
This book should be on your book shelf. I would critize the book in that although it recommends against portfolios of individual securities it does not warn the investor against professional portfolio managers.

By way of example:Piscaqua Research in a study covering the period 1987-96 found that only 10 out of 145 major pension funds, or just seven percent, out performed a portfolio consisting of a simple 60%/40% mix of the S&P 500 index and the Lehman Bond index respectively.

Or is it logical I ask for you to believe that you can predict which actively managed funds will out perform, or are you overconfident of your skills? If you are trying to find the great fund managers who will out perform in the future ask yourself: what am I going to do differently in terms of identifying the future winning fund managers, than did the pension plans and their advisors? And if you are not going to something different what logic is there in playing a game at which others with superior resources have consistently failed?

If you a really serious in finding an investment technique that will provide you with reasonable return with less risk I suggest the following little book. This is a little book that I have written and contains the essential of how to invest. Just click on the title to find the book. How to Make Money in the Stock Market-Buy 2,500 Different Stocks-Pay no Commission
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