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The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns

ISBN: 978-0-470-89333-3
240 pages
May 2010
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (0470893338) cover image
Investing is all about common sense. Owning a diversified portfolio of stocks and holding it for the long term is a winner’s game. Trying to beat the stock market is theoretically a zero-sum game (for every winner, there must be a loser), but after the substantial costs of investing are deducted, it becomes a loser’s game. Common sense tells us—and history confirms—that the simplest and most efficient investment strategy is to buy and hold all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost. The classic index fund that owns this market portfolio is the only investment that guarantees you with your fair share of stock market returns.

To learn how to make index investing work for you, there’s no better mentor than legendary mutual fund industry veteran John C. Bogle. Over the course of his long career, Bogle—founder of the Vanguard Group and creator of the world’s first index mutual fund—has relied primarily on index investing to help Vanguard’s clients build substantial wealth. Now, with The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, he wants to help you do the same.

Filled with in-depth insights and practical advice, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing will show you how to incorporate this proven investment strategy into your portfolio. It will also change the very way you think about investing. Successful investing is not easy. (It requires discipline and patience.) But it is simple. For it’s all about common sense.

With The Little Book of Common Sense Investing as your guide, you’ll discover how to make investing a winner’s game:

  • Why business reality—dividend yields and earnings growth—is more important than market expectations
  • How to overcome the powerful impact of investment costs, taxes, and inflation
  • How the magic of compounding returns is overwhelmed by the tyranny of compounding costs
  • What expert investors and brilliant academics—from Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham to Paul Samuelson and Burton Malkiel—have to say about index investing
  • And much more

You’ll also find warnings about investment fads and fashions, including the recent stampede into exchange traded funds and the rise of indexing gimmickry. The real formula for investment success is to own the entire market, while significantly minimizing the costs of financial intermediation. That’s what index investing is all about. And that’s what this book is all about.

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Introduction.

Chapter One: A Parable.

Chapter Two: Rational Exuberance.

Chapter Three: Cast Your Lot with Business.

Chapter Four: How Most Investors Turn a Winner’s Game into a Loser's Game.

Chapter Five: The Grand Illusion.

Chapter Six: Taxes Are Costs, Too.

Chapter Seven: When the Good Times No Longer Roll.

Chapter Eight: Selecting Long-Term Winners.

Chapter Nine: Yesterday’s Winners, Tomorrow’s Losers.

Chapter Ten: Seeking Advice to Select Funds?

Chapter Eleven: Focus on the Lowest-Cost Funds.

Chapter Twelve: Profit from the Majesty of Simplicity.

Chapter Thirteen: Bond Funds and Money Market Funds.

Chapter Fourteen: Index Funds That Promise to Beat the Market.

Chapter Fifteen: The Exchange Traded Fund.

Chapter Sixteen: What Would Benjamin Graham Have Thought about Indexing?

Chapter Seventeen: "The Relentless Rules of Humble Arithmetic."

Chapter Eighteen: What Should I Do Now?

Acknowledgments.

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JOHN C. BOGLE is founder of the Vanguard Group, Inc., and President of its Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He created Vanguard in 1974 and served as chairman and chief executive officer until 1996 and senior chairman until 2000. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Mr. Bogle as one of the four "Investment Giants" of the twentieth century; in 2004, Time named him one of the world's 100 most powerful and influential people, and Institutional Investor presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
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"excellent advice in a concise and accessible manner." (The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2007)

"It's hard to argue with the eloquent logic of John C. Bogle's latest ode to index funds…Bogle's 'Little Book' offers much exemplary advice." (Bloomberg News, April 2007)

Among monetary gurus and wise men, John Bogle is a singular case. As the founder of the highly regarded Vanguard Group, he is revered for the company's commitment to providing value to its clients as well as profits to its investors. He even has his own group of fans, called "Bogleheads," who cling to every utterance and pronouncement from the great man.

In this latest entry in the Little Book series, Bogle's gentle prose contains idiot-proof advice for investors at all levels. He punctures the myth of the superiority of mutual funds and instead declares that by using a bit of common sense, low-cost index funds are the way to go for most modest stock investors. He's also wary of the ways of Wall Street and cautions investors to steer clear of its institutional con men and cautions against excessive fees and taxes that invariably eat up profits.
It's not very glamorous or exciting advice, but that's also his point: Slow and steady wins the race. (Miami Herald, April 9, 2007)

"genuinely provides investors with the ideal strategy for making the most of stock-market investing" (Motley Fool's UK website, March 8, 2007)

"It's an easy read that will, I suspect, quickly join Burton Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Streetand Charles Ellis's Winning the Loser's Gameas one of the indexing crowd's favorite books."—Jonathan Clements (Wall Street Journal)

"It's hard to argue with the eloquent logic of John C. Bogle's latest ode to index funds." (Bloomberg Terminal, March 8, 2007).

"provides an opportunity to reflect on a remarkable career and legacy." (Financial Times, 19th March 2007)

"…it is John Bogle's hymn to index-tracking investment, and a fascinating read it is too." (Daily Telegraph, March 2007)

"Those who doubt my reasoning should read the Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle." (FT Adviser, 24th April 2007)

"…particularly interesting…goes some way towards discrediting the stockpicking virtues taught to me in my time as a financial journalist." (Fund Strategy, 7th May 2007)

"…wittily written, pocket-sized guide…If you want to learn how to avoid the unpredictabilities of the stock market and the fees of middle men, then this book is well worth a read." (Pensions Age, May 2007)

" ... For the individual investor, it presents a solid game plan for growing funds over the long haul." (Directorship, July 2007)

"... read Bogle's new Little Book of Common Sense Investingand you'll see how easy it is to beat the Alpha Hunters at their own game!" (MarketWatch, July 2007)

‘The one big thing that Bogle knows -- and explains so well in this slender volume -- is that buying and holding a broad benchmark of stocks while keeping fees to a minimum leads to higher long-term returns than constantly trading in a vain attempt to beat the market. Common sense? Yes. But radical too, as the entire investing establishment is designed to get investors to do the exact opposite.” (CNNMoney)

"Business books are often written by show-offs who want you to know all about their knowledge of the Greek tragedies and dark-coloured birds. So it was nice to get hold of the simply written Little Book of Common Sense Investing…Its author, John Bogle, in no simpleton. He built Vanguard into a huge fund manager...He is synonymous with index funds in the US. Vanguard's S&P 500 tracker is by far the world's largest mutual fund."—Stephen Cranston, Investor's Notebook (Jan 23, 2013)

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