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John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2001

    The Whole Bogle in Bite-Sized Bits

    The Whole Bogle in Bite-Sized Bits, November 22, 2000 Reviewer: Donald Wayne Mitchell (see more about me) from Boston John Bogle is one of the investment legends of American finance. While still a student at Princeton University, he recognized the importance of strategic allocation of long-term investments into common stocks and the potential of creating great results by matching the market, rather than trying to exceed it. Depending on the length of time you choose, around 80 percent of professionally managed portfolios will underperform indexes like the Standard and Poor's 500. This volume contains his thesis, written in 1951, to show the original basis of his important insights. Mr. Bogle brings two dimensions to this volume that are well worth your reflection. First, he is an astute thinker about how the individual investor can make the most money with limited risk. Second, he is a man of great principle, and serves as a conscience for an important segment of our financial industry, the one containing mutual funds. The book primarily presents his ideas in the form of 25 speeches he made over the last several decades organized around four themes: Investment strategies for the intelligent investor The weaknesses of the mutual fund industry The experience of Vanguard (the mutual fund firm he founded) in providing good economic returns Personal perspectives on life. The investment ideas are consistent with what Mr. Bogle has written in his excellent books, such as Bogle on Mutual Funds: Keep it simple (match the market with an index of common stocks constantly owned) Focus on the potential for economic productivity of public companies rather than on the fluctuations in the prices of their shares (and the negative emotions those fluctuations can generate) Get your investing done in low-cost ways that minimize expenses and taxes (index funds do this) Stewardship should be the guiding principle for the mutual fund company (the client's interests come before the company's interests). I enjoyed seeing these ideas expressed as speeches. They are more powerful in this form because they are more concentrated than in a whole book. In addition, Mr. Bogle is a man of passion, and he lets his passion show in the speeches more than he does in the books. To me, however, the best part of the book was the section on personal perspectives. Later in his life, Mr. Bogle had a heart transplant, and these speeches reflect the changed perspectives that experience has had on his life. If you are like me, you will be touched in important ways by these reflections. One of the great potential benefits of reading this book is to see where the bar can be set in how one man can make a large difference through the clarity and consistency of his life. Mr. Bogle's commitment to inexpensive index funds has added tens of billions in wealth for millions of people. In the future, his influence will probably continue to expand. His principles around the idea of economic stewardship will probably live even longer in peoples' minds. Ask yourself: What needs to be done better about what I do for a

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