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Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor Hardcover – March 18, 1999
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Invoking the words and spirit of Thomas Paine, investor-turned-historian John Bogle concedes that his ideas for revamping the mutual-fund industry are perhaps "not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor." But despite likening the "ills and injustices suffered by mutual fund investors" to those "our forebears suffered under English tyranny," Bogle--founder of the Vanguard Group--makes a strong case for index funds with this exhaustive study of investing.
He begins with primer-like essays on investment strategy, championing mutual funds for their inherent investment value, and then grinding each point home with a bevy of graphs, charts, entertaining anecdotes, and common sense. He repeatedly stresses time as a basic tenet for investing, listing these simple rules: "Time is your friend"; "Impulse is your enemy"; "Stay the course." And then he proceeds to blast fund managers, who have become marketers rather than managers.
The trade-off between the profits that accrue to fund shareholders and the profits that accrue to the fund management companies seems subject to no effective independent watchdog or balance wheel, despite the fact that the shareholders actually own the mutual funds.It's an interesting concept: smart, reasoned investors can all but secure their financial future, but the system itself, run unchecked by fund managers, needs a major overhaul. And considering the amount of reasoned, historically based support he includes, readers will have a hard time finding fault with the sometimes controversial Bogle. Equal parts instructional and crusade, Common Sense on Mutual Funds deserves the attention it's likely to receive. Recommended. --Rob McDonald
From Publishers Weekly
Not that many years ago, an average bookstore might have had two or three books on mutual funds filed away in the business section. Today, as the number of Americans who invest in mutual funds continues to grow, such books take up several aisles in a section of their own. There are guides for data junkies and mathphobes, books that tell how to make a killing and books that tell how to avoid the coming disaster. A few classics stand above the clutter. Bogle on Mutual Funds is one of them. Now the same author has added another. While the first book aimed at educating beginners, the new one seeks to persuade experienced investors to discard received wisdom that isn't so wise after all. While no 450-page work on mutual funds with lots of charts can be considered fun summer reading, the book is always informative and the writing never worse than painless and sometimes quite lively. Bogle speaks with a rare authority. On one hand, he is the founder of Vanguard mutual funds, the second-largest mutual fund company in the world. So he knows the business from the ground up. On the other hand, Vanguard has always been famous for running the lowest-cost mutual funds, funds that eschew loads, engage in sensible strategies and return all profit to the investors. So Bogle is also a leading consumer advocate. That rare combination, mixed with years of serious research and a dash of style, makes Bogle an unparalleled guide to the world of mutual funds. Money Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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It is like the reference Encyclopedia of Mutual Funds. The 600+ pages cover everything from basic definitions to strategies for investment to include several levels of the economics and math that go with it.
On of my favorite things about this booko is that Bogle does not pull any punches. This is not a get rich quick view of funds. It is a treatise and a lifetime of experience condensed down into a readable book.
While you can read the book cover to cover, I recommend using it as a reference where you read the book in the sections as you need them.
bogle's main message is that costs do matter and simplicity is the best way to avoid costs. the recommendation is to buy low cost broad-based index funds that will outperform the vast majority of actively managed mutual funds in the long run. notice by the definition of "average" that the average investor will get average market returns minus fees and taxes. notice the low cost broad-based index fund gets average market returns minus *minimized* fees and taxes. the index investor will thus outperform the average investor in actively managed mutual funds given all the extra costs associated with active management. also notice that the margin of victory from indexing will compound over the years and will lead to an even greater index fund performance in the long run. that's the gist of why indexing works. if you're not convinced, read bogle's book!
even if you've already read some of the other great passive investing books espousing the virtues of indexing, you still owe it to yourself to read at least one of bogle's books. "common sense on mutual funds" is both readable as well as comprehensive, and would be a good addition to your library. burton malkiel, rick ferri, william bernstein, larry swedroe and others have all written excellent books on the subject as well, but they also hold differing opinions on the specifics, so read all of these authors! i was already convinced on indexing after first reading malkiel's book, but continued reading more on passive investing to work out all the details. these books as a whole help reinforce the main ideas while also exposing the reader to the authors' differences in perspectives, thus building confidence in the reader to think and succeed as an independent d.i.y. investor.
of particular interest to me was the issue of small-cap value tilting. i was ambivalent on this practice, but bogle's book convinced me to *not* small-cap value tilt. readers who already know what small-cap value tilting is should feel free to skip to the next paragraph. now, for those unfamiliar with the terminology, stocks are divided according to size (small-cap, mid-cap, large-cap) as well as style (value, blend, growth). the size refers to the company's size as measured by its market capitalization, i.e. the number of shares multiplied by the price per share. the style is another way to partition stocks according to certain numbers such as price/book ratios and dividend yields; there's no agreed upon standard that's universally accepted for what constitutes a value/blend/growth stock. informally, you could think of value stocks as those that are not currently favored by the market for whatever reason. at the opposite extreme, growth stocks are "hot" stocks that scream potential. blend stocks are in between value and growth. given 3 sizes and 3 styles, there are thus 9 size-style combinations. according to research done by professors fama and french, small-cap value stocks significantly outperform the other 8 size-style combinations in the long run. the problem is, small-cap value stocks make up about 3% of the total stock market. small-cap value tilting means overloading on small-cap value stocks to try to capture the bonus identified in the fama/french research, but that also means underweighting 97% of the total market and potentially missing out if the other 8 size-style combinations outperform small-cap value. you see the dilemma.
bogle's repeated message of simplicity, as well as his emphasis on reversion to the mean, ultimately convinced me to resist the temptation of small-cap value tilting. bogle's unwavering conviction in the simple serves as a necessary component in the chorus of voices, helping to guide your investment decisions, even on the more esoteric matters. and although the message of simplicity is easily stated, i am glad bogle wrote a comprehensive text because the details illustrating the majesty of simplicity is what finally settled the small-cap value tilting question for me.
this book's huge size and scope definitely has its drawbacks, not the least of which is the sheer intimidation factor. nevertheless, i believe this book does serve a useful role in the catalog of passive investing, and bogle was the only one who could've written it.