THE BATTLE FOR FINANCIAL SECURITY: How to Invest in the Runaway 80's by Roger W. Bridwell

THE BATTLE FOR FINANCIAL SECURITY: How to Invest in the Runaway 80's

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Bridwell, a veteran Wall Streeter and author (Reality in the Stock Market, 1965), makes a case for common stocks remarkably similar to that offered by Burton Malkiel in The Inflation-Beater's Investment Guide (p. 343). Both books are solid and systematic; Bridwell's is the more conversational. He first reviews price advances through the ages, concluding that, as of the 1980s, ""inflation is an irreversible process."" Not only does ""a silent majority"" of the electorate (e.g., home owners and debtors), tacitly favor inflation, but politically expedient indexing techniques--like cost-of-living pension adjustments--allay the public's fears and even legitimize rising prices, More than half the text, however, is devoted to a closely reasoned discussion of the rewards and risks involved in common stocks vis-a-vis other options--with the proviso that ""in an inflationary age, there are no investments; everything is a speculation."" This said, Bridwell notes that since World War I equities have afforded total returns (appreciation, plus dividend income) averaging 9 percent annually. During the period ahead, he predicts a norm of 15 percent or more, in part because other assets--including real estate, commodities, and collectibles--provide no yields. (The returns on savings accounts, bonds, etc., are, of course, fixed and hence vulnerable to inflation.) In general, Bridwell favors issues with well-defined growth prospects whose debt-to-equity ratios are high (because obligations can be paid off in ever cheaper dollars) and whose labor costs are comparatively low (20 percent or less of revenues). In particular, he prizes companies that control renewable and/or non-renewable resources--timber, farm land, hydrocarbons, and industrial metals. As for strategy, Bridwell strongly suggests buying and holding for the long term because trading success demands a near-miraculous sense of market timing. To his credit, he presents his frequently chilling scenario in modulated tones; it's one of the more responsible contributions to the literature of inflation investing.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1980
Publisher: Times Books