The Intelligent Investor. Benjamin Graham.

Graham, Benjamin. The Intelligent Investor — Revised Edition. Harper Business 2006 (first published 1949; in this form 1973; new commentary by Jason Zweig 2003). 6/13.

This is one of the financial self-help classics, feted by Warren Buffet and many others as the kindly dropping of pearls of one of the most successful investors of the 20th century. Graham is a contrarian in a way, and so suits my almost completely substance-vacant investment philosophy. I actually read about 30% of this book because most of it is much more technical and hands-on than I’m capable of encompassing, and a lot of the detail is out of date.

But many of its fundamental ideas appeal to me.  First, you can’t predict the future. Next, where the financial world is concerned the future is unlikely to resemble the past.  And finally, the best investment strategy is a sophisticated version of “buy low, sell high.”

Nobody but a greedy fool purchases something expensive when everybody wants it, and nobody but a silly coward panics and sells when everybody else is doing the same.  The opportunities this represents will never go away because human beings will always be greedy and frightened. The amount of courage and common sense required to take advantage of these opportunities is surprisingly minimal.  All you need is belief that most people are out of their minds, and it follows that when everybody is grabbing as much of something as they can get their hands on, the price will go up and that’s a good time to sell and when everybody is getting rid of something as quickly as they can because it looks worthless the price will go down and that’s a good time to buy. Unless it is worthless…

Of course the book including Zweig’s commentaries is decades out of date, but the fundamental ideas are timeless.

Some how come I’m not filthy rich? Too soon old and too late smart. 8.4/5.0

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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