Don't Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, Mutual Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes


In his Foreword, former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan S.Blinder writes, "America's vaunted financial system let us downbig-time during the raucous decade of the 2000s." In Don't Count onIt!, John C. Bogle—a man Dr. Blinder refers to as "theconscience of Wall Street"—identifies modern capitalism'sflaws, explains how we arrived at this economic crossroads, andexamines how we can begin to repair the damage before it's toolate.

Don't Count on It! presents an anthology of ...

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Don't Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism,

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In his Foreword, former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan S.Blinder writes, "America's vaunted financial system let us downbig-time during the raucous decade of the 2000s." In Don't Count onIt!, John C. Bogle—a man Dr. Blinder refers to as "theconscience of Wall Street"—identifies modern capitalism'sflaws, explains how we arrived at this economic crossroads, andexamines how we can begin to repair the damage before it's toolate.

Don't Count on It! presents an anthology of Bogle's latestthinking, focused on how numbers deceive us into seeing things asother than they really are. He also presents a cogent analysis ofthe chinks in the armor of a financial system that has failed tolive up to the responsibility owed to its individual andinstitutional investors.

Read and learn from the wise counsel of Vanguard's founder abouthow we deceive ourselves into accepting illusory and evanescentnumbers rather than focusing on fundamental and intrinsic reality.Bogle argues that we confuse the market of real investing with themarket of expectations, disregarding the beauty of simplicity infavor of the wizardry that creates complex "products" that serveWall Street at the expense of its clients. Specifically, Boglediscusses:

  • The unconscionably high costs of financial intermediation
  • The disgraceful failure of money managers and agents to abide bywhat should have been traditional fiduciary standards
  • The unfortunate consequences of the dominance of short-termspeculation over long-term investment

The subjects of Bogle's anthology go well beyond the investmentmarkets, as indicated by the seven sections of Don't Count onIt!—Investment Illusions, The Failure of Capitalism, What'sWrong with "Mutual" Funds, What's Right with Indexing,Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Idealism and the New Generation,and Heroes and Mentors.

His book encourages readers to better understand our complexfinancial system, to examine it, to debate it, to challenge it, andto fulfill our duty to ask simple questions and demand answers thatare understandable, intelligent, and, above all, wise.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Don’t Count on It! is a wise book. As most traders and investors remain convinced that they can beat the market, it’s always sobering to hear a compelling voice from the other side.” (Seeking Alpha)

"If Bogle writes it, it’s worth reading. His latest, Don’t Count On It, is a collection of 35 essays, every one of them filled with wisdom and insight. . . While I have read Bogle’s views on these issues many times, I’m always impressed with the quality of his writing (Where else can you read quotations from Adam Smith to Winston Churchill to Cato?), the wit and humility he shows and his passion to help investors. The book is a compelling read, one that in effect tells the story and mission of a great man. We’re lucky and privileged to have him fighting on our side.  As Bogle noted in his book, Machiavelli “described the accumulation of worldly ‘glory’ as the motivating principle that drives leaders to undertake ‘great enterprises’ and do ‘great things’ on behalf of their fellow citizens and not just themselves.” Hard to find a better description of Bogle himself." (MarketWatch)

“Mr Bogle’s prescription for a better system is relatively simple: to demand proper fiduciary management from money managers. They must prioritise client interests, act as responsible corporate citizens, charge reasonable fees and eliminate conflicts of interest. Amen to that. It may sound like nostalgia from an old-timer, or idealism from a visionary. But without such changes, investors and society will continue to be short-changed as the financial community carries on regardless.” (Financial Times)

“In Don’t Count on It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes, Bogle hammers at what he labels the cost matters hypothesis: Whether markets are efficient or inefficient, investors as a group must fall short of the market return by precisely the amount of the aggregate costs they incur. It is the central fact of investing. Not surprisingly, the book deals extensively with the low-cost innovation for which Vanguard is best known: the stock index mutual fund. When the company first made indexing available to small investors in 1975, critics derided the notion as “Bogle’s folly.” To Bogle, however, the benefits to investors were irrefutable. . .  The impact of indexing has been so great that a second, hugely important contribution by Vanguard has been overshadowed. Vanguard originated the now standard segmentation of bond funds into short-, intermediate-, and long-term varieties. Bogle was enshrined in the Fixed Income Analysts Society Hall of Fame for this innovation. The author of Don’t Count on It! does not dwell on such honors, which include being named one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people by Time magazine. In fact, Bogle devotes the final section of his book to tributes to four of his own heroes: Walter Morgan, economist Paul Samuelson, investment guru Peter Bernstein, and Dr. Bernard Lown, a Nobel laureate whom he credits with keeping him alive in defiance of a mystifying heart ailment. Bogle also shows modesty in sharing credit for his contributions to the field and in downplaying his own theoretical expertise. His unashamed display of such old-fashioned virtues, as well as his heretical view that running a business is not entirely about maximizing the wealth of the owners, has earned him the nickname ‘St. Jack.’” (Financial Analysts Journal)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470643969
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/2/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 603
  • Sales rank: 526,210
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John C. Bogle is the founder of the Vanguard Group of MutualFunds and President of its Bogle Financial Markets Research Center.He created Vanguard in 1974 and served as chairman and chiefexecutive officer until 1996 and senior chairman until 2000. In1999, Fortune magazine named Mr. Bogle as one of the four"Investment Giants" of the twentieth century; in 2004, Timemagazine named him one of the world's 100 most powerful andinfluential people, and Institutional Investor presented him withits Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Forbes magazine describedhim as the person who "has done more good for investors than anyother financier of the past century." Mr. Bogle graduated fromBlair Academy cum laude in 1947 and Princeton University in 1951,magna cum laude in economics. In 1999, he received the University'sWoodrow Wilson Award for distinguished achievement in the nation'sservice.
Don't Count on It! is Mr. Bogle's ninth book. His earlierbooks include Common Sense on Mutual Funds, The Battlefor the Soul of Capitalism, The Little Book of Common SenseInvesting, and Enough.

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Table of Contents



A Note to the Reader.

Part I: Investment Illusions.

Chapter 1: Don't Count On It! The Perils of Numeracy.

Chapter 2: The Relentless Rules of Humble Arithmetic.

Chapter 3: The Telltale Chart.

Chapter 4: A Question So Important That It Should Be Hard To Think about Anything Else.

Chapter 5: The Uncanny Ability to Recognize the Obvious.

Part II: Capitalism.

Chapter 6: What Went Wrong in Corporate America?

Chapter 7: Fixing a Broken Financial System.

Chapter 8: Vanishing Treasures: Business Values and Investment Values.

Chapter 9: A Crisis of Ethic Proportions.

Chapter 10: Black Monday and Black Swans.

Chapter 11: The Go-Go Years.

Part III: “Mutual” Funds.

Chapter 12: Re-Mutualizing the Mutual Fund Industry: The Alpha and the Omega.

Chapter 13: A New Order of Things: Bringing Mutuality to the “Mutual” Fund.

Chapter 14: The Fiduciary Principle: No Man Can Serve Two Masters.

Chapter 15: Mutual Funds at the Millennium: Fund Directors and Fund Myths.

Chapter 16: “High Standards of Commercial Honor…Just and Equitable Principles of Trade…Fair Dealing with Investors”.

Part IV: Indexing.

Chapter 17: Success In Investment Management: What Can We Learn From Indexing?

Chapter 18: As The Index Fund Moves from Heresy to Dogma…What More Do We Need To Know?

Chapter 19: “The Chief Cornerstone”.

Chapter 20: CONVERGENCE!

The Great Paradox: Just as Active Fund Management Becomes More and More Like Passive Indexing, So Passive Indexing Becomes More and More Like Active Fund Management.

Part V: Entrepreneurship.

Chapter 21: Capitalism, Entrepreneurship, and Investing: The 18th Century vs. the 21st Century.

Chapter 22: Seventeen Rules of Entrepreneurship.

Chapter 23: “Vanguard: Saga of Heroes”.

Chapter 24: When Does Innovation Go Too Far?

Part VI: Idealism.

Chapter 25: Business as a Calling.

Chapter 26: The Right Kind of Success.

Chapter 27: “This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True”.

Chapter 28: “Enough”.

Chapter 29: If You Can Trust Yourself…

Chapter 30: The Fifth “Never”.

Chapter 31: “When a Man Comes to Himself”.

Part VII: Heroes.

Chapter 33: Paul A. Samuelson.

Chapter 34: Peter L. Bernstein.

Chapter 35: Bernard Lown, M.D..

Index. 9780470643969

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