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The Investor's Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything in Between Hardcover – November 2, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"So how do we take care of ourselves? Easy. I believe The Investor's Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon and Everything in Between is the shortest and most lucid explanation of index investing and simple asset allocation yet written. . . . This is a must-read book."
Scott Burns, Syndicated Columnist and Principal of Assetbuilder.com

From the Inside Flap

As recently as a generation or two ago, the lack of financial ability wasn't a handicap for the average person. But in today's world—where most of us have been forced to manage our own investment and retirement portfolios—it has become essential to understand the finer points of our financial life.

While the meltdown of 2008–2009 has compounded the complexity of the investment landscape, timeless investment principles can help you navigate even the toughest investment terrain. That's why bestselling author William Bernstein—a grassroots hero to independent investors—has written The Investor's Manifesto.

Approaching the problems of investing and saving from the perspective of someone who has had to figure it out for himself, Bernstein knows firsthand how difficult these endeavors can be—especially for those with little professional experience in this arena. Now, with the current market maelstrom as a backdrop, he skillfully describes what it takes to plan for a lifetime of investing, discussing stocks and bonds as well as the relationship between risk and return. Written in a straightforward and accessible style, The Investor's Manifesto:

  • Explores the theoretical basis of investing and designing portfolios, drawn in large part from financial history

  • Offers insights on dealing with the emotions and attitudes that routinely cripple investors

  • Discusses how to deal with the investment industry when executing strategies designed for anything from saving for retirement to putting a child through college

  • Addresses ways in which individual investors can construct diversified portfolios that can blunt potentially damaging market forces

  • Covers the concept of Pascal's Wager—which will enable you to identify and avoid worst-case investing scenarios

If there were ever a time to take control of your financial future, it is now. Potentially generous returns are available to the brave, the disciplined, and the liquid. If you follow the advice found here and keep your head while others lose theirs, then you will have a fighting chance of avoiding the financial pitfalls in front of you and profiting over the long-term.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470505141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470505144
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Philip Stein on November 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Bernstein presents the readers of his latest book with the distilled essence of investment wisdom. He laments that his previous works may not have connected with the broad audience he had hoped to reach, but the events of the past year encouraged him to give it one more try. There is little in the way of mathematics or complex graphs to confuse the unwary. Sounding like a caring uncle dispensing advice with tough love, Dr. Bernstein drives his points home with laser-like precision. You will not find his narrative peppered with wishy-washy words like maybe, possibly, perhaps, or "kinda like." Note how he expresses himself in the following examples:

On the importance of saving: "Save as much as you can, and do not stop saving until you die."

On risk versus return: "[I]n the course of earning those higher returns, your portfolio is going to lose a truckload of money from time to time. If you desire perfect safety, then resign yourself to low returns. It really cannot be any other way."

On glib explanations of market behavior: "The reason that 'guru' is such a popular word is because 'charlatan' is so hard to spell."

On buying low: "[M]ost grizzled veterans will tell you that the best purchases are often made when they feel they are about to throw up."

On bad behavior: "Our emotions define our humanity...but in the world of finance, they are death itself."

On performance chasing: "Alas, small investors incessantly chase returns the same way that dogs chase seagulls up and down the beach."

On overconfidence: "In the investment world, you are not above average. You are likely not even close."

Clearly, Dr. Bernstein does not consider it his mission to massage your ego.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A little background on myself since it affects my review. I have read over 200 books on investing. My conclusion is that investing in a diversified portfolio of low cost index funds is the way to build and maintain wealth. I am a member of the Internet Forum Bogleheads dot Org, whose members are disciples of Jack Bogle's passive investing strategies. William Bernstein occasionally posts on this forum. I am also the author of the book Index Mutual Funds: How to Simplify Your Financial Life and Beat the Pros. I am also a contributing author to the Bogleheads 2nd book on investing titled The Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning. I recently met Bill Bernstein at the Boglehead's 8th annual convention in Fort Worth in October 2009. I heard Bernstein answer questions and give a 20 minute lecture on the four lessons he learned from the Crash of 2008.

I have enjoyed Bernstein's previous books, and I really like his Retirement Calculator from Hell story posted on his Efficient Frontier web site. I looked forward to reading the Investor's Manifesto.

Bernstein correctly points out that every few years we experience a Bear Market in stocks, but nobody knows when to predict when the next one will begin. If you examine history from WWII, you will find we have experienced about 13 Bear Markets in 65 years.....or roughly a Bear Market about every 5 years. Bernstein's solution to the dilemma of not knowing when the next Bear Market will begin is to hold a diversified portfolio of low cost index funds, including both stocks and bonds. Bernstein's recommendation is not new with regards to holding a portfolio of both stocks and bonds. Benjamin Graham back in his 1934 book Security Analysis recommended roughly a 50:50 split between stocks and bonds.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Two or three years ago, I decided to read William Bernstein's 'Four Pillars of Investing', after a favorable review in the Wall Street Journal. I wasn't disappointed. The book covered the basics of the history and psychology of investing, presented a balanced description of the market, the marketing, and the marketeers, providing convincing evidence to make me think that, for the average Joe, the easy but boring path of the low-cost index investing and keeping the cool while the market is going crazy is the safest one. I though that, after the market meltdown of 2008-early 2009, 'The Investor's Manifesto' would provide interesting insights and a summary of new evidence coming from the serious finance literature. Instead, I found a book that was basically a brief summary of 'Four Pillars...', without most of the 'hard' data that helped Bernstein to make his case. If I had to give a recommendation, I would say forget about this one and read his 'Four Pillars of Investing'. Still, 'the Investors Manifesto' makes a fun and interesting read and could be an excellent primer for a person who has not read anything on the topic.
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Format: Hardcover
There are many books on investments. This is one of the great ones in my opinion. It is my favorite since Swenson's Unconventional Success,
and is much better written that that one.

The points are somewhat familiar. Trying to pick stocks or pick managers is useless, so stick to low cost index funds. Allocate assets to
minimize risk based on your own personal risk tolerance. Beware of the whole financial industry, which is designed primarily to extract as much
money as possible from you, thus working directly against your financial interest.

This advice will not appeal to many people. It is the old "get rich slow" advice. I suspect many people are far more interested in titles that
supposedly tell you how to make 1 million dollars a year through day trading. Good luck to them. I don't believe it'll happen, Bernstein does not
believe it'll happen either. He thinks stocks going forward may promise 4 to 8 percent per year over the long long term.

His points are strongly supported through reasoned arguments. There is much discussion of the recent turmoil in the financial markets and the good
advice that people should always understand the risks they are taking.

For people who can understand and follow the advice in this book, it could well change their future, particularly young people with long saving times
ahead of them. There are no sure things in the investment world, all you can do is improve your probability for success and decrease your probability
for loss. In my opinion, the strategies espoused in this book are the most sensible and historically successful at putting the odds in your favor. This
goes on my short list of great and highly recommended investment books.
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