Heads I win, tails I win Why smart investors fail and how to tilt the odds in your favor

Spencer Jakab

Book - 2016

"Since leaving his job as a ... stock analyst to become an investing columnist, Jakab has watched his readers--and his family, friends, and colleagues--make the same mistakes again and again. He set out to evaluate the typical advice people get, from the clearly risky to the seemingly safe, to figure out where it all goes wrong and how they could do much better"--Dust jacket flap.

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Subjects
Published
New York, New York : Portfolio/Penguin [2016]
Language
English
Physical Description
vi, 280 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 263-268) and index.
ISBN
9780399563201
0399563202
Main Author
Spencer Jakab (author)
Review by Library Journal Reviews

As the title suggests, Jakab, a writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column and a former stock analyst at Credit Suisse, takes a dim view of Wall Street fund managers. He repeatedly bemoans the ways in which "savers are parted from their money" by professionals playing a zero-sum game with the funds of regular folks on the losing end, including retirees, young workers, and families. The book focuses more on what investors shouldn't do—such as listening to hot, get-rich advice—and shows how the volume, confidence, and self-assuredness of media pundits is often inversely related to their accuracy rate. Jakab is no anticapitalist, though. He believes in making money—he just recommends doing it with an investment strategy he describes as "less is more" and "cheap and lazy." "Throughout this book," writes the author, "I've encouraged you to pay as little as possible and do as little as possible to make sure your nest egg grows." His prime strategy is to choose low-cost index funds and then mostly look away. VERDICT With a knack for telling a story with humor and detail, Jakab presents a book that will appeal to thrifty fans of index investing and some supporters of Bernie Sanders.—Doug Diesenhaus, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill [Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Jakab, editor of the Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column, is concerned about the money being left on the table by blithely ignorant amateur investors; he wrote this book, according to the preface, to help civilians understand what's happening to their money, and how to fix the situation. In almost no other area of life are people expected to manage something so important with so little information. "With gold watches and a steady, livable pension check becoming a rarity," Jakab writes, "we've been entrusted with our own finances and for the most part failed miserably." And professionals may not do much better. The "composite fund investor" earned an annualized 2.5% during the 30 years of a study by fund evaluation firm Dalbar—a terrible showing. Jakab's efforts to acquaint readers with the basic realities of the market and to provide an insider's view of how to approach money management will be comprehensible to even the most intimidated reader. Energetic and engaging, this is required reading for anyone who'd like to retire ahead of the game. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A lighthearted financial parable by the Wall Street Journal "Ahead of the Tape" columnist challenges common investing approaches to explain how they undermine even the most savvy investor's returns, sharing reliable strategies that have a potential to multiply typical retirement nest eggs.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

INVESTING IS ONE OF THE FEW AREAS IN LIFE WHERE EVEN VERY SMART PEOPLE LET HOPE TRIUMPH OVER EXPERIENCE  According to Wall Street Journal investing colum­nist Spencer Jakab, most of us have no idea how much money we’re leaving on the table—or that the average saver doesn’t come anywhere close to earning the “average” returns touted in those glossy brochures. We’re handicapped not only by psychological biases and a fear of missing out, but by an industry with multimillion-dollar marketing budgets and an eye on its own bottom line, not yours.  Unless you’re very handy, you probably don’t know how to fix your own car or give a family member a decent haircut. But most Americans are expected to be part-time fund managers. With a steady, livable pension check becoming a rarity, we’ve been entrusted with our own finances and, for the most part, failed miserably.  Since leaving his job as a top-rated stock ana­lyst to become an investing columnist, Jakab has watched his readers—and his family, friends, and colleagues—make the same mistakes again and again. He set out to evaluate the typical advice people get, from the clearly risky to the seemingly safe, to figure out where it all goes wrong and how they could do much better. Blending entertaining stories with some sur­prising research, Jakab explains  ·How a typical saver could have a retirement nest egg twice as large by being cheap and lazy. ·Why investors who put their savings with a high-performing mutual fund manager end up worse off than if they’d picked one who has struggled. ·The best way to cash in on your hunch that a recession is looming. ·How people who check their brokerage accounts frequently end up falling behind the market. ·Who isn’t nearly as good at investing as the media would have you think.  He also explains why you should never trust a World Cup–predicting octopus, why you shouldn’t invest in companies with an X or a Z in their names, and what to do if a time traveler offers you eco­nomic news from the future.  Whatever your level of expertise, Heads I Win, Tails I Win can help you vastly improve your odds of investment success.