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The Index Fund Solution: A Step-By-Step Investor's Guide

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2000

    superiority of the average

    A lot of people invest in the stock market so that they can talk about a given stock or mutual fund at a cocktail or dinner party as if it's a thoroughbred that they knew from the beginning would win. Even if it fails, it is still good stuff for conversation. It seems index funds are the opposite. I read 'The Index fund Solution' and the idea that I could mindlessly outsmart the majority of money managers and people who studied the market professionally was astounding. The emperor has no clothes! It is an exciting idea, but it does not make such great conversation piece, as I found out on a date where I explained (see the 'spreading the word' subsection in chapter v) the virtues of indexing to a girl who feigned reasonable interest but who probably pegged me for a guy shooting for average, for par, not Tiger Woods-like brilliance. (My guess is she fell for some fast-talking day-trader.) But let's say you don't care about talking about performance, your ten-bagger stock that you bought five months ago, or all the other aspects of your raging portfolio - then just buy an index fund and enjoy being smart enough to know that you are not a genius, but take comfort in the fact that most portfolio managers, although very smart, are not any more prescient than you are. Some are, yes, but there's really no Nostradamus-like way of telling who they are from year to year. Also, the efficient market theory obiviates the need for the finest minds (barring a small handful of genuine wizards; namely, buffett and lynch and others) since, as Richard Evan's points out, a chimp throwing darts could do as well or better than some head-scratching Harvard M.B.A. A lot of this book centers on this point; it's pretty tough to confute. The index fund solution is essentially like falling in love with the girl next-door: attractive, intelligent, steady, honest, long term. The mutual fund is a similar sort of girl; the kind your mother can't see through, though. Seemingly sweet and simple, she really requires high maintenance at all stages of the relationship. Everyone loves index funds for different reasons. I love index funds primarily for their simplicity at tax time, but again, that's lousy conversation. It seems most of the reasons for loving index funds are best kept in one's heart: treasured, but not vaunted. Read and enjoy the message of this book but best not be Paul and spread the word too evangelically - especially if you're on a date.

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