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Winning the Loser's Game, Fifth Edition: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing Hardcover – October 2, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles D. Ellis advises institutions and governments around the world on investing. For many years he taught investment courses at both Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management, and he chaired the Yale Investment Committee. He has served on the investment committees of Exeter, Whitehead Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Hollins University and is a director of Vanguard.

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Product Details

  • Series: Winning the Loser's Game
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 5 edition (October 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071545492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071545495
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Philip Stein on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ancient Greek lore tells us of Sisyphus who was banished to the underworld to push a heavy stone up a steep hill. Approaching the top of the hill, the stone would tumble to the bottom whereupon he would begin his labors anew. Poor Sisyphus was condemned to repeat this cycle for eternity.

Today's investors can be excused for feeling a bit like Sisyphus. We have been dutifully adding to our investments over the years and watching our portfolios grow nicely. But just as the outlines of a comfortable retirement begin looming on the horizon, the bottom of the market falls out, our portfolio values plummet, and, like Sisyphus, we are forced to start over. Unfortunately, we are a few years older and, unlike Sisyphus, we do not have eternity to make things right. Time appears to be running out.

Out of fear or disgust or both, many of us have bailed out of the stock market, locked in losses, and vowed never to return. We have placed our remaining funds in CDs, US Government securities, or short-term bonds. A recent Wall Street Journal article described a nascent trend to return to the soil - people buying farmland, determined to lead a rural lifestyle with the goal of becoming self-sufficient. No matter what happens in the capital markets, you always have your land and the ability to grow food on it. Well, before you throw in the towel and retreat to CDs or Green Acres, you owe it to yourself to read the new 5th edition of Charles Ellis' investment classic "Winning the Loser's Game." Understand why you have had a bad investment experience and what you may have done to make it worse. Retreating to conservative investments or the rural life will likely give rise to a different set of problems that could leave you facing more disappointment down the road.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read Charles Ellis (co-written) book "The Elements of Investing" which was a quick read, and outlined the key points of proper investing,which I found very interesting. I wanted some more insight. I therefore bought "Winning the Loser's Game" which clarified the questions I had. Both books gave me the insight I needed to change my investing style with confidence. The well thought out analysis written in clear language is what every novice investor needs. I am recommending both books to all my friends. Thank you Mr. Ellis for writing this unbiased, down to earth book, with lots of insight and a good sense of humour as an added bonus.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm listening to this audio book and I have to say it's one of the best investing books I've ever heard, and I've listened to probably 2 dozen audio books on investing. Why is it so good? Because the author doesn't try to sell you on his investing "method". He doesn't talk over your head, nor talk down to you. He is very matter-of-fact as he goes about outlining the sobering facts about investing.

I've heard some of his advice in other books, but this one distills everything down to its core. One reviewer criticized the book for having one overall slant, that being "invest in index funds". That may be true to a point, but the important thing is to understand *why* index funds offer most investors the best place to invest. The author goes to extremes to explain this in multiple ways, to make sure you have it drilled into your head so you don't go off half-cocked chasing after some crazy investing scheme. For most people (who are largely irrational when it comes to investing), this is a welcome treatment of the topic.

The author also takes time to explain many fundamental investing terms and concepts, making this a good choice for those new to investing. I'm even considering buying a copy for my niece when she graduates from college, to start her out on the right foot with salient investing advice, before she gets sucked into questionable investing choices.

The bottom line is that if you want the facts laid out bare and shown to you in different ways until you finally "get it", then this book accomplishes just that. And even if you're a seasoned investing expert, you might do well to digest the author's advice, especially if you think you can beat the market year in and year out over the long haul. (And if you've indeed found a way to do this and can prove it, then give me a call and let's do business :)
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the books that actually changed the world - well the investment world at least. Starting in the 1950's, Harry Markowitz and others in academia developed what later became modern portfolio theory (MPT). The thing was that the investment industry didn't really pick up on these novelties. That is, not until the first edition of this book in 1985 and the paper Determinants of Portfolio Performance the following year by Brinson et. al. After that the investment business was changed for ever. Mr Ellis, the most influential investment writer of the age, was for 30 years not only the managing partner of Greenwich Associated investment advisors to a huge number of financial organizations but also found time to teach at Harvard and Yale and to sit on a number of endowment boards.

The real gem in this book is the concept of the loser's game. Ellis offers the analogy of tennis and concludes that this sport could actually be two different types of games. Tennis played by amateurs is a loser's game as the outcome is determined by the mistakes of the loser. Professional tennis players make very few mistakes so it's a winner's game where the outcome is determined by the winner's initiatives. Professionals win points, amateurs lose points. Investments have according to Ellis turned into a loser's game. Most professional investment managers are extremely skilled and combined they have enough capital to almost become the market. This then makes it extremely hard for any one of them to regularly beat the market.

In a loser's game the one that makes the least strategic mistakes win. In Ellis analysis too many in the investment business focus on the nearly impossible task of beating the market but too few investment managers try to understand the needs of their clients.
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