- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Eleventh edition (January 4, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780393352245
- ISBN-13: 978-0393352245
- ASIN: 0393352242
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 829 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Random Walk down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing Paperback – January 4, 2016
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“A Random Walk has set thousands of investors on a straight path…. A lucid mix of the theoretical and the pragmatic.”
- Chicago Tribune
“A must-read for any investor.”
- The Browser
“Imagine getting a week-long lesson on investing from someone with the common sense of Benjamin Franklin, the academic and institutional knowledge of Milton Friedman and the practical experience of Warren Buffett. That’s about what awaits you in the latest edition of this must-read by Burton Malkiel.”
“Not more than half a dozen really good books about investing have been written in the past fifty years. This one may well belong in the classics category.”
“An engagingly written and wonderfully argued tome.”
About the Author
Burton G. Malkiel is the Chemical Bank Chairman's Professor of Economics Emeritus at Princeton University. He is a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers, dean of the Yale School of Management, and has served on the boards of several major corporations, including Vanguard and Prudential Financial. He is the chief investment officer of Wealthfront.
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So, you are starting your journey here, attempting to formalize what until now it’s only been an intuitive understanding (if that). After finishing this book, you feel good about it, confident that you can do this. So, you then delve into Value Investing, in an attempt to use some fundamental analysis to pick a group of stocks that make up a portfolio that is stronger than the S&P. You soon realize that this is not that easy, as there are too many variables to take into account and then, even if your fundamental analysis is correct, the market for some reason does not validate your views. You feel tired, but not enough to give up. After all, this is really cool stuff and makes you sound smart at social gatherings. So, you decide to change your approach. You still feel like it is possible to create a basket of stocks that can beat the market. You see names like Amazon, Netflix, Nvidia, and think you can easily get on a sweet ride by investing in those market leaders. You do well. But you think you can do better. Because the market decided to take a break with Netflix, your results are not as great as you thought they would be. In the meantime, you’ve been reading Peter Lynch, learned about those 10 baggers, and started looking around you for those places where you usually shop at. You love going to Shake Shack. So you look up its stock symbol and realize it had a tremendous run since its IPO. At a family meeting, you hear your fresh-out-of-college nephew talk about how much he likes his job as a data scientist at Hello Fresh, where they use an incredible tool called Tableau. So, you decide to invest in all of these companies. Initially, you do well in Shake Shack. But then the market decides it had a very long run and it’s time to take some profits off the table. So, you end up with average results. Tableau does great and you keep hearing good things about it. Then it tumbles 50% overnight on disappointing earnings. Hello Fresh has an amazing business model but for some reason the stock has been trading in ranges for ever.
Now, a year has gone by and you realize you got the same results the index had. Except that you spent all that time and money trying to build and maintain your portfolio when you could have easily bought and held the SPY. Even worse, you now have to pay taxes on all those trades that you exited just so you could feel good by pocketing some profits.
Well, my friend, those are the type of lessons this book tries to teach. The problem is that you will not listen at first and will eventually learn the hard way, just to end up here again (probably re-reading this review). But that’s good. You learned your lesson and are wiser now. Good luck!
I have long ago realized that though I am interested in the workings of the market, I am not going to delve to the minutiae of companies and different trades and try to be smarter than someone else on the other side who thinks he’s doing the same thing. Nope. Malkiel and Bogle figured out a way I could get away with making the most return possible with the least effort possible - indexing.
Basically this book is a defense of the efficient market hypotheses, or at least part of it. As I understand it, there are two parts to the EMF. One is that the price is always right. So that there’s no such thing as a bubble ever because all the valuations of the market price of securities are representative of their underlying value. The other part is that there’s no free lunch. Or basically arbitrage opportunities may exist, but they are not predictable nor do they persist. I think that the second part is more true than the first, and that’s what this book really digs into, showing you that there are no persistent ways to beat the market. If that’s true, then the best way to consistently make money is to just buy the market. Thankfully there are financial instruments that make that possible - and they’re where I have my money. Cards on the table, this book is just a giant exercise in confirmation bias for me, but it is confirmation bias well done in clear writing with a well-organized structure. I read this burning through the pages on a long holiday weekend, and I wanted to send it to my parents. I thought again about that. It might be too late for them since I don’t know their financial positions. Maybe I’ll send it to my siblings.
A final note, though. Even though Malkiel shows convincingly that there is no way to beat the the market, there is an odd paradox. For the market to work, it needs people out there who think that they can beat the market. Even if the best strategy is to buy and hold a low cost index fund, if everyone did that liquidity and price discovery would drop. What someone following Malkiel needs is people who think he is wrong and that they can generate “alpha” (returns above the market). This goes against the second part of the EMF, where arbitrage opportunities can’t exist because if you have a way to beat the market, then everyone has a way to beat the market and then once everyone is in, no one has a way to beat the market.