A 1951 Princeton thesis and 25 lectures from the founder of the Vanguard Mutual Funds.
Bogle illustrates the tenets of his successful investing career in this collection, the first in the Great Ideas in Finance series. Three basic rules guide his work. First, investors should be aware of the costs of investing: since mutual funds charge an annual management fee that ranges from one percent of assets to over two percent, the difference of a percentage point compounded over many years adds up to a lot of money. Second, investors must be willing to invest for the long term: commissions on multiple trades and taxes on short-term gains eat away at profits. Third, investors should buy index funds (like Vanguard): index funds buy stocks in the same proportion as the S&P 500 or the Wilshire 500 indices and, with America growing perpetually, index funds will capture this increase. Index funds also have lower costs because of less required management and less trading. This advice—buy index funds, invest for the long term, and watch costs—is included in 24 of the 25 lectures. The one exception discusses organ donation: Bogle, the recipient of a heart transplant in 1995, writes of his experience and then tells the story of Nicholas Evans. A seven-year-old American boy, Evans died in Italy in 1995, and his family donated seven of his organs to Italian children—a story of American kindness in a dark hour. And Bogle’s college thesis (“The Economic Role of the Investment Company”), while it may have been cutting-edge in 1951, is rather quaint today.
A weird mixture of personal narrative and straightforward advice.