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A Random Walk Down Wall Street; Including a Life-Cycle Guide to Personal Investing Paperback – 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 548 customer reviews

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It's unlikely that you'll spot many dog-eared copies of A Random Walk floating amongst the Wall Street set (although bookshelves at home may prove otherwise). After all, a "random walk"--in market terms--suggests that a "blindfolded monkey" would have as much luck selecting a portfolio as a pro. But Burton Malkiel's classic investment book is anything but random. Since stock prices cannot be predicted in the short term, argues Malkiel, individual investors are better off buying and holding onto index funds than meddling with securities or actively managing mutual funds. Not only will a broad range of index funds outperform a professionally managed portfolio in the long run, but investors can avoid expense charges and trading costs, which decrease returns.

First published in 1973, this seventh printing of a A Random Walk looks forward and does so broadly, examining a new range of investment choices facing the turn-of-the-century investor: money-market accounts, tax-exempt funds, Roth IRAs, and equity REITs, as well as the potential benefits and pitfalls of the emerging global economy. In his updated "life-cycle guide to investing," Malkiel offers age-related investment strategies that consider one's capacity for risk. (A 30-year-old who can depend on wages to offset investment losses has a different risk capacity from a 60-year-old.) In his assessment of rocketing Internet stocks, Malkiel defends his "random" position well, explaining how "the market eventually corrects any irrationality--albeit in its own slow, inexorable fashion. Anomalies can crop up, markets can get irrationally optimistic, and often they attract unwary investors. But eventually, true value is recognized by the market, and this is the main lesson investors must heed." Written for the financial layperson but bolstered by 30 years of research, A Random Walk will help individual investors take charge of their financial future. Recommended. --Rob McDonald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Latest edition of Princeton professor Malkiel's bestselling investment guide.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 499 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393320405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393320404
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (548 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Burton Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Street is well known to be one of the modern classics on stock investing. I was already aware of the premise behind the book - the stock market is pretty efficient and most everyone is wasting their time trying to find inefficiencies to exploit - but I was interested in finding out what information inside could really help me as an individual, both as an investor and as a person interested in improving my personal finances. Here's what I found.

Chapter 1: Firm Foundations and Castles in the Air
The book starts off by defining two basic investment ideologies, the firm foundation theory and the "castle in the air" theory. The firm foundation theory basically says that you should invest based on the actual real value of what you're investing in; for example, if you buy a stock of Coke, it should be based on what the value of the Coca-Cola Corporation is. The "castle in the air" theory basically says that you should invest in response to what the crowds are doing and that you can make more money by riding the waves of people who are either following trends or trying to invest based on a firm foundation. Which one is right? The truth is that they both are, but at different times.

Chapter 2: The Madness of Crowds
This chapter is quite entertaining: it discusses financial "crazes" throughout history, including my personal favorite craze of all, tulipomania. In all three examples (tulipomania, the South Sea bubble, and the Wall Street crash of 1929), a market grew like gangbusters until everything was overvalued, then the values rapidly returned to normal.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a nutshell Malkiel's advice is to own your own home, buy no-load index funds (equities and bonds), buy international index funds, and mix your investments according to your age. You should also have medical and plain term life insurance, and cash on hand for a few months in case of an emergency. This book is a complete course in how to manage your money effectively, whether you're a millionaire or a low-income earner. It also gently but firmly chastises proponents of get-rich-quick schemes such as day traders.
First, the book explains what is financial risk, and points out that everything is risky, even insured savings accounts since inflation can destroy the value of cash. Malkiel describes just how risky various investments are, and how the risk is one investment is often offset by the risk in another. Second, Malkiel describes a variety of specific investments (e.g. no load index funds, your own home, individual stocks) and suggests how individual investors should mix them, depending on their personal circumstances. For instance, an ambitious young woman in her twenties can consider aggressive high-risk high-growth funds. If they boom, she's rich, if they bust she's young enough to recover her losses through income. This would not be true of a middle-aged couple about to pay for their children's college years.
"A Random Walk Down Wall Street" should be in every family's library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My review pertains to the newest 2010 edition of "A Random Walk Down Wall Street". I found it to be a well-updated classic. The author is very knowledgeable and makes a strong case for sensible investing choices using index funds and ETF's. Each chapter is peppered with experiences, jokes, and other interesting anecdotal tidbits. The old references that were fit for the 70's or 80's were purged or modified to make this book fit 2011. For the investor or anyone interested in building their own nest egg and then protecting it, this is a highly recommended book. I consider myself to be a rather experienced and seasoned investor but I learned a lot of new things reading this book. I have also read "The Little Book of Common Sense Investing" by John C. Bogle of Vanguard fame. I much prefer "A Random Walk Down Wall Street". Random is a much bigger book and will require more time to read, but it's much more thorough and less biased. If you have the time to read it, I would recommend A Random Walk over the Little Book.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Malkiel provides an outstanding all-in-one stock book for the educated but non-technical investor. He includes overviews of the financial, economic and psychological foundations for stock markets, as well as entertaining summaries of the history of stock markets in the world and in the U.S. Mr. Malkiel takes a sensible, long-term approach to investing with stocks and bonds, at the same time pouring cold water on various market theories. He approvingly quotes the phrase "the stock market is like a casino in which the odds are rigged in favor of the player" which is probably the best summing-up I've ever encountered when thinking about stocks. Some of his more salient and direct advice includes these gems:

* "A simple 'buy-and-hold' strategy typically makes as much or more money than technical strategies" (p 151).

* "No technical scheme whatever could work for any length of time and ...even if they did work, the schemes would be bound to destroy themselves" (p 167).

* Regularities in stock market movements are arbitraged away over time; whoever spots such a regularity would not tell everyone else, but instead would keep it to him- or herself to get rich (p 168).

* Many analysts are incompetent or are compromised by institutional conflicts of interest (pp 181, 183).

* "The evidence from several studies is remarkably uniform. Investors have done no better with the average mutual fund than they could have done by purchasing and holding an unmanaged broad stock index" (p 187).

* Don't ignore small cap companies: "smaller firms tend to have higher rates of return" (p 239).

* Investors should look for stocks with relatively low P/E ratios and low values relative to their book values (pp 239, 261).
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