- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 10 edition (January 2, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393340740
- ISBN-13: 978-0393340747
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (559 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Tenth Edition) Paperback – January 2, 2012
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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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Top Customer Reviews
Now the tenth edition comes upon a changed world and a wiser reader. Reaction: it is even more captivating in some respects, less so in others.
More captivating: The futility of the individual investor trying to gain an information advantage over the market as a whole is even more compelling today. Investment advisors, fund managers, and many academics have a vested interest in debunking the Efficient Market Hypothesis. George Soros, for example, claims that it "has been well and truly discredited by the crash of 2008." "Markets," say the critics, "are not rational."
Of course they are not, and Malkiel never claimed they were. If "rational" means that markets correctly appraise the value of stocks as the discounted present value of future earnings, Malkiel hardly believes such value objectively exists. Valuations are nothing but forecasts ("what will earnings be in three years?") under malleable assumptions ("what is the correct discount rate?"). Just as individuals can be grossly wrong, markets collectively can be grossly wrong. Does Soros think Malkiel takes no account of bubbles? He should read the first edition which, like the tenth, opens with an exposition of the South Sea Bubble.
The Efficient Market Hypothesis simply holds that markets are very quick to gobble up and digest information--so quick that it is nearly hopeless for an individual to gain an information advantage. Moreover, fundamental analysis heavily relies on SEC filings. After a career of drafting, litigating, and teaching S1s, 10Ks, and 10Qs, I can affirm that, while outright fraud is rare, these things are filled with embedded fictions. Any investor who believes that he can apply some kind of exalted wisdom to data that is equally available to all, is deluding himself.
Less captivating: In the first edition, Malikiel pointed out that 67% of managed mutual funds fail to match the return of broad-based indexes such as the Wilshire 5000. At the time, that seemed to me a stunningly astute observation. Today, it seems banal. Begin with the statistically tautological fact that in any year 50% of funds will perform below the market and 50% above. If you subtract the higher fees and taxes that are sucked out of managed funds, that alone accounts for the difference. (Maybe 33% beat the market in Year 1. But over ten or twenty years, the percentage shrinks to a minuscule level--functionally zero.)
So Malkiel's recommended strategy of buying and holding broad-based index funds is based on nothing more than spreading risk and saving costs: the labor of research and the levy of fees and taxes. That is a useful revelation, but not as brilliant as I thought 38 years ago.
So should non-professionals give up on picking stocks? Yes, if they hope to beat the market over the long term. Yet there is nothing irrational in viewing the market as a kind of roulette table. Roulette is a slightly negative-sum game, while the stock market is a positive-sum game--about 9% positive. You can hit a streak in roulette and come out ahead from time to time. Your chances of hitting a streak in the market are even better, and the game of individual stock-picking can be fun. But we shouldn't forget that it is, as Keynes said, "a game of Snap, of Old Maid, of Musical Chairs -- a pastime in which he is victor who says Snap neither too soon nor too late, who passes the Old Maid to his neighbour before the game is over, who secures a chair for himself when the music stops."
Malkiel has been criticized (in many of the low star comments right here on Amazon) for claiming that markets are efficient when history and conventional wisdom tells us that that is not always true. An important note here is that he only states the they are reasonably efficient over the long run, but admits to the existence of some anomalies that crop up in the short term. This is part of Malkiel's style: he presents information and then also presents the arguments against his views. While he does conclude that his views are the most accurate, he does so in such a logical and easy to understand manner that you would be hard pressed to find a solid argument against him.
All in all I must say that this is one of the best books on investing I have ever read and it a must read for anybody interested in finance or plans on living beyond the age of 30 and wants to retire at some point.
The general organization of the book was quite nice too. I really liked the author's style of explaining several instruments (stocks, bonds, options...) in each case by listing and explaining exactly the factors that control the instrument's return in the long run. It's just like the first time you noticed the tags that say "UNIT PRICE" in the supermarket and realized that that, and not the sticker price, was the thing you needed to pay attention to in order to save money.
Extremely recommended to anybody who saves money, at all, ever.