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The Elements of Investing Hardcover – December 14, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In his classic book The Elements of Style, Professor William Strunk Jr. whittled down the art of powerful writing to a few basic rules. Forty years later, E.B. White initiated a revision, and thus The Elements of Style became known as Strunk & White. Following this same format, authors Charles Ellis and Burton Malkiel, two of the investment world's greatest thinkers, have combined their talents to produce The Elements of Investing—a short, straight-talking book about investing and saving that will put you on a path towards a lifetime of financial success.

The Elements of Investing lays to rest the popular shibboleths that undergird the hyperactive trading of the average investor. In it, Malkiel and Ellis skillfully focus their message to address the essentials and offer a set of simple, but powerful thoughts on how to avoid Mr. Market and his "loser's game," and instead enjoy the "winner's game" approach to investing.

All the investment rules and principles you need to know are here—with clear advice on how to follow them. In just two hours of reading time, you will learn all you need to know to be truly successful in investing. Divided into five essential elements of investing, this little book packs a big message that can help secure your financial future all the way through retirement. Topics touched upon include:

  • Diversifying broadly over different types of securities with low-cost "total market" index funds and different asset types—and why this is important

  • Focusing on the long term instead of following market fluctuations that are likely to lead to costly investing mistakes

  • Using employer-sponsored plans to supercharge your savings and minimize your taxes

  • And much, much more

A disciplined approach to investing, complemented by understanding, is all you need to enjoy success. This practical guide explains what you really need to know and puts you on the right course for long-term success through all kinds of markets.

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Elements Of Investing

"These noted authors have distilled all you need to know about investing into a very small package. The best time to read this book is when you turn eighteen (or maybe thirteen) and every year thereafter."
Harry Markowitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics 1990

"Struggling to find money to save? Befuddled by the bewildering array of investment choices? As you venture into the financial markets for the first time, it's helpful to have a trusted guide—and, in Charley Ellis and Burt Malkiel, you have two of the finest."
Jonathan Clements, author of The Little Book of Main Street Money

"No one knows more about investing than Charley Ellis and Burt Malkiel and no one has written a better investment guide. These are the best basic rules of investing by two of the world's greatest financial thinkers."
Consuelo Mack, Anchor and Managing Editor, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470528494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470528495
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to the authors coming out with a new book to give their investment advice after the 2008 and early 2009 stock market crash. Their fundamentals appears to be the same with the use of broad based index funds, but their stock allocations have shifted to having more money invested globally outside of the United States. You'll have to purchase the book to read their recommendations. Also, they have given their opinion about Vanguard's new Total World index fund and both have given their individual asset allocations based on a person's age with Burton Malkiel's being more conservative and Charles Ellis' being more aggressive. They both also give a list of recommended index funds along with a surprise for us regarding their individual stock picking. It's not what your thinking like day trading. Trust me.

The authors' do say that the book will help 90% of all investors, with the remaining 10% of investors seeking professional help with complicated situations.

All around very good book and a quick read. Its good for those relatively new to investing because they give personal finance advice also, and the book is also good for experienced investors for their expert advice regarding investing after the 2008/early 2009 stock market crash.

I highly recommend the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a Burton Malkiel and/or Charles Ellis fan, do NOT buy this book. You presumably have already read some of their other works and this book adds nothing new. It is a very brief (small, short, large font, lots of white space) book that summarizes the basic investment lessons that you would already know. If I didn't have more respect for Malkiel/Ellis I would suggest that they created this book just to capitalize on their names. On the other hand, if you haven't read their works (or anything by John Bogle) then the lessons in this book will prove valuable. You will still feel like you overpaid for the book (it would make a good feature article in a magazine), but at least it may simplify the investment arena for you and provide you with some clear (albeit very succinct)direction.
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Format: Hardcover
I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of this groundbreaking, new, investment book from two of most respected marketwatchers around today! Princeton economics professor, Burton G. Malkiel, and influential non-profit chairman, Charles D. Ellis, have put their brains together to come up with one of the most surefire investment strategies out there. The Elements of Investing is intelligently written in a pared-down-to-the-absolute-basics sort of way. It's one of the rare books written in this vein that actually takes the reader's ambitions seriously. It's a pleasure to read, because it is peppered with real life examples of people exhibiting good and bad investment behavior and the twists and turns their lives take as a result.

Right off the bat, Malkiel and Ellis admonish readers to start saving as early as possible and continue saving regularly throughout their lives. Granted, in a runaway consumerist culture like ours, characterized by its easy credit and debt-addicted millions, this task is so often easier said than done. But a prudent, evenhanded approach to spending and saving is possible--and Malkiel and Ellis show you how with smart suggestions that range from the banal, to the downright devious. The real plus to becoming a habitual saver, the authors explain, is that it helps you keep your real priorities in perspective. According to Malkiel and Ellis, your number-one priority, along with that of every other, gainfully employed, taxpaying American, should be to gradually grow your net worth so that your safety net's intact when your finally reach retirement age. Think of saving, they say, as investing in your future self!
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Format: Hardcover
Malkiel's Random Walk Down Wall Street is one of the best finance books ever written. It is still a pleasure to read. This book is more nuts-and-bolts, but the advice is absolutely first rate. Here are their four main points:

1. Save regularly and start early.

2. Use company- and government-sponsored retirement plans to supercharge your savings and minimize your taxes.

3. Diversify broadly over different securities with low-cost "total market" index funds and different asset types.

4. Rebalance annually to the asset mix that's right for you.

5. Stay the course and ignore market fluctuations; they are likely to lead to serious and costly investing mistakes. Focus on the long term.

I think point 4 is way overstated, however. I would rebalance every ten years, or maybe even twenty years, unless there is a real reason for doing so. Rebalancing is costly.

Here is an example of the savings from using low-cost mutual funds (point 3 above). Suppose you put $1000 every year for 30 years into stocks. The average rate of return, historically, is about 8.6%, so if there are not brokers' fees, you would have $138,420 at the end of 30 years. With yearly brokers' fees of 1.15% (the industry average), you end up with $103,890 after 30 years, which means the brokers get 25% of the total. Moreover, had you invested in Treasury bills for the same period, you would have earned about $55,000, so the total increase in your wealth from using the broker is $103,420 - $55,000 = $48,420. of which the broker gets $34,530, or 70% of the net gain from using the broker.

When you buy domestic index mutual funds, you need never pay more than one fifth of one percent in overhead per year.
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