Windy but uncommonly sensible investment tuition and caveats from a greatly mellowed Cassandra. Over a decade ago, Browne...


WHY THE BEST-LAID INVESTMENT PLANS USUALLY GO WRONG: And How You Can Find Safety and Profit in an Uncertain World

Windy but uncommonly sensible investment tuition and caveats from a greatly mellowed Cassandra. Over a decade ago, Browne made a name for himself, presciently recommending hard-money hedges against inflation, most notably in the best-selling You Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis (1974). Having subsequently warned that the risk/reward potential of precious metals, Swiss francs, and allied commitments had taken a turn for the worse (in 1981's Inflation-Proofing Your Investments), he now opts for a comparatively orthodox approach. Before getting down to cases on his safe-and-sound strategy, however, Browne takes the measure of traditional as well as trendy systems for beating the markets. To illustrate, he offers concise critiques of technical analysis, wave theory, and offbeat indicators like Superbowl outcomes, whose predictive value owes more to coincidence than to economic realities. Similarly, he flays Wall Street hucksters who employ baffle-gab promotion to obscure the gaps between their prophecies and performance. In an appendix that presents his own record in some detail, he disarmingly denies himself credit for a series of great calls on the grounds that the timing was fortuitous. In this random-walk context, Browne seems to have become an apostle of dollar. cost averaging. At any rate, he advises individuals to put most of their eggs in one basket called a permanent portfolio. Cautioning that easy money is a will-o'-the-wisp, the author recommends allocating assets about equally among stocks, bonds, gold, and cash or equivalents (e.g., Treasury bills). Over the longer run, his experience suggests, a mix of this sort will fare well without undue risk of capital; annual reviews of holdings would provide the basis for making any necessary changes. By contrast, speculative funds (i.e., those that could be lost without real pain) would be channeled into more venturesome outlets--say, exchange-listed options or futures contracts--via a so-called variable portfolio. In the event, throughout the latter half of his discursive text, Browne concentrates on smart-money tips for creating and managing appropriately diversified portfolios. The bottom line: a thoughtful, wide-ranging guide that at some length offers investors realistic possibilities for getting rich slowly while avoiding the pitfalls that can lead to going broke fast.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987