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Don't Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, "Mutual" Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes Hardcover – November 2, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Don’t Count on It! is a wise book. As most traders and investors remain convinced that they can beat the market, it’s always sobering to hear a compelling voice from the other side.” (Seeking Alpha)

"If Bogle writes it, it’s worth reading. His latest, Don’t Count On It, is a collection of 35 essays, every one of them filled with wisdom and insight. . . While I have read Bogle’s views on these issues many times, I’m always impressed with the quality of his writing (Where else can you read quotations from Adam Smith to Winston Churchill to Cato?), the wit and humility he shows and his passion to help investors. The book is a compelling read, one that in effect tells the story and mission of a great man. We’re lucky and privileged to have him fighting on our side.  As Bogle noted in his book, Machiavelli “described the accumulation of worldly ‘glory’ as the motivating principle that drives leaders to undertake ‘great enterprises’ and do ‘great things’ on behalf of their fellow citizens and not just themselves.” Hard to find a better description of Bogle himself." (MarketWatch)

“Mr Bogle’s prescription for a better system is relatively simple: to demand proper fiduciary management from money managers. They must prioritise client interests, act as responsible corporate citizens, charge reasonable fees and eliminate conflicts of interest. Amen to that. It may sound like nostalgia from an old-timer, or idealism from a visionary. But without such changes, investors and society will continue to be short-changed as the financial community carries on regardless.” (Financial Times)

“In Don’t Count on It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes, Bogle hammers at what he labels the cost matters hypothesis: Whether markets are efficient or inefficient, investors as a group must fall short of the market return by precisely the amount of the aggregate costs they incur. It is the central fact of investing. Not surprisingly, the book deals extensively with the low-cost innovation for which Vanguard is best known: the stock index mutual fund. When the company first made indexing available to small investors in 1975, critics derided the notion as “Bogle’s folly.” To Bogle, however, the benefits to investors were irrefutable. . .  The impact of indexing has been so great that a second, hugely important contribution by Vanguard has been overshadowed. Vanguard originated the now standard segmentation of bond funds into short-, intermediate-, and long-term varieties. Bogle was enshrined in the Fixed Income Analysts Society Hall of Fame for this innovation. The author of Don’t Count on It! does not dwell on such honors, which include being named one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people by Time magazine. In fact, Bogle devotes the final section of his book to tributes to four of his own heroes: Walter Morgan, economist Paul Samuelson, investment guru Peter Bernstein, and Dr. Bernard Lown, a Nobel laureate whom he credits with keeping him alive in defiance of a mystifying heart ailment. Bogle also shows modesty in sharing credit for his contributions to the field and in downplaying his own theoretical expertise. His unashamed display of such old-fashioned virtues, as well as his heretical view that running a business is not entirely about maximizing the wealth of the owners, has earned him the nickname ‘St. Jack.’” (Financial Analysts Journal)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 603 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047064396X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470643969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book covers a lot of ground, with 35 chapters addressing seven main themes over a total of 586 pages. If you are already very familiar with John Bogle (who has written many books and delivered countless speeches addressing investment topics over a very long career in investments), then there is precious little in this book that you don't already know. However, if you are an investor who isn't quite that familiar with Bogle, then you may find this anthology of his major essays and speeches over the last decade to be a very helpful introduction to important investment-related topics of today.

Without divulging too much detail about the book, here's a relatively short guide to Bogle's topics. The seven parts of the book address:

1. Investment illusions. For example, as Bogle makes clear mutual funds taken as a whole simply cannot earn the markets' returns--because mutual funds have their own expenses. Indeed, Bogle's simple formula--net returns to investors = gross returns on assets minus the costs of operating the financial system--is pretty obvious, but one that investors tend to forget. Another illusion cited by Bogle is that mutual fund investors actually earn the returns of their funds. That is, if the XYZ mutual fund earns an average annual return of 8% over a 10-year period, chances are that XYZ's shareholders didn't achieve that 8% annual return, due to the well-documented tendency of investors to add to their investments when they feel optimistic (and markets are high) and reduce their investments when they feel pessimistic (and markets are low). Simply put, buying high and selling low reduces one's return.

2. The failure of capitalism. Bogle is actually a champion of capitalism, not some anti-capitalist critic.
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Format: Hardcover
My recent journey to Bogleheads 9 was special for one and only one reason: the opportunity to see Jack Bogle enter the room to a standing ovation of Bogleheads and speak his mind, as he always does. His god-given sportscaster's voice is truly something special--and it is always worth the price of the trip to listen to him. (If Jack had ever decided to do play-by-play for the Phillies, there is no doubt that he would have ended up in a different sort of Hall of Fame).

The commute back from Philly to Chicago only made the latest Boglestock meeting even more memorable, since it gave me a few uninterrupted hours to read his new book, in the way he suggested, by moving directly to the chapter of interest, rather than reading the book as a continuum. I'll let you find your own personal gems, but let me share a few that I enjoyed.

No one speaks more eloquently to Americans--particularly young Americans--in my view than Bogle. I encourage everyone, whatever your age, to read Chapters 26-30, first to yourself and then to your children. His commencement speeches, packed with sage advice, are well crafted homilies for America's youth. I'm glad they are published in a book for all to read. Part VII, "Heroes and Mentors," is also deeply personal, an acknowledgement of 29 heroes and mentors who changed his own life for the better. The obit for Dr. Bernard Lown, who at one point served as Jack's doctor, also gave me a window into a part of Jack's personal journey that I did not know about. Dare I say that Bogle writes as well about all things non-investment as he does the investment world itself?

As poet Wallace Stevens once noted, "to get to the universal, you must go through the local.
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Format: Hardcover
When I write reviews I do not usually read the other reviews, but in this case there were a limited number of reviews and they were EXCELLENT. I therefore will not cover the same ground but come at John Bogle's work from a different angle if you will permit me.

By way of disclosure I am a market professional, with 40 years of experience working with billions of dollars and performing an advising function which includes not just wealthy individuals but heads of state and finance ministers. Having said that, it is my belief that this book is extraordinary. It is a breath of fresh air in an industry of incompetence. You will learn more from reading, and re-reading this book than any course you could probably take at Harvard or Wharton in portfolio analysis, and valuation - been there, done that.

Keep in mind that Wall Street is by definition the worse managed industry in America, and whose basic function is to judge the managements of other companies in other industries. For 200 years they haven't gotten it right, and my fellow Wall Streeter's are so CONFLICTED between their need to make money, and their fiduciary responsibilities that they fail in both. John Bogle is the only author I know that lays it out for you. Warren Buffett is always polite politically to Washington. He does not want to make waves just like the jovial uncle he wants to portray himself as. Bogle on the other hand has a desperate need to get the truth out there, and he writes as he speaks. This book is his voice, no question about it.

Only John Bogle will hit you in the face with the truth on every topic that he writes. There are no punches pulled here. You can start to read this book anywhere you like. Throw darts at the pages and start there, just be prepared to be enlightened.
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