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5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless
This book, together with a good book on Warren Buffet basics, will provide the private stock market investor with the tools needed for extraordinary investment success. First, a book on Buffet basics will teach the investor how to identify exceptional businesses and how to value them correctly (by calculating the present value of the total cash that can be extracted from...
Published on Feb. 9 2004 by GC Fourie

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2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing given the price
This is a very handsome book with lovely graphs etc. However I was after a useful summary of historical market performance.
This book was lacking in several respects:
1. The numbers behind the graphs are not provided and are not available so you cannot do any further analysis yourself. The graphs themselves are also drawn in such a way that it is hard to extract...
Published on July 14 2003 by Tim Josling


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5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless, Feb. 9 2004
By 
GC Fourie (South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
This book, together with a good book on Warren Buffet basics, will provide the private stock market investor with the tools needed for extraordinary investment success. First, a book on Buffet basics will teach the investor how to identify exceptional businesses and how to value them correctly (by calculating the present value of the total cash that can be extracted from the business during its expected life). Next, Triumph of the Optimists will be of tremendous help in selecting the appropriate valuation variables, e.g. equity risk premium, discount rate, etc to be used. By incorporating the statistics provided in this book into your valuations, you will have 101 years of global investment history on your side. As a global investor for more than twenty years, I sometimes had to learn the hard way that "reversion to the mean" is a basic investment truth that dare not be ignored. This book will tell you what that "mean" is. Some may argue that this book is expensive, or that its statistics may be slightly distorted, but in real life this book's practical value makes it priceless.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing given the price, July 14 2003
By 
Tim Josling (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
This is a very handsome book with lovely graphs etc. However I was after a useful summary of historical market performance.
This book was lacking in several respects:
1. The numbers behind the graphs are not provided and are not available so you cannot do any further analysis yourself. The graphs themselves are also drawn in such a way that it is hard to extract the numbers using a ruler.
2. The problem of survivorship bias. They claim that while the 16 countries analysed are an incomplete list (only 70% of world GDP in 1900), this is not a big problem, they feel. Their message that stocks do well in the long run supposedly remains intact, however they do not provide any solid evidence of this. The countries left out of course suffered terrible performance, with total confiscation of assets in most cases and major losses in others.
The countries left out include: Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Latin America. As an example, Argentina was the wealthiest country 100 years ago but was left out. They claim that their criterion for inclusion was the availability of data, but Switzerland was included even though the data is incomplete.
In my opinion, some attempt should have been made to adjust for this problem.
3. No assessment is made of the issue of capital controls etc as an impedement to implementing the world indexing strategy. It is simply assumed that equal dollar indexing could be implemented without any costs, and with no taxes.
All in all, this book fails to provide a realistic and convincing assessment of global investment returns in the real world.
Victor Niederhoffer uses this book to justify his bullishness on stocks, Sorry Vic, no cigar.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read in conjunction with Adventure Capitalist, July 8 2003
By 
James H. McDuffie (Huntsville, Alabama United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
A lot of work went into this book. But it is scarce on the conclusions side. I know this is deliberate and that the purpose of the authors was just to provide a volume of data with some interpretation but there are just too many loose ends.
First, although much is made of the quality of the data much of the data is from other authors and sources and is used blindly. In other words much of what the authors have done is collation.
Second, there are several countries that ostensibly did better than the U.S and Britain during the twentieth century but little is said about this fact and indeed the authors spend some pages justifying the emphasis on the U.S. and Great Britain during the twentieth century. But the reasons they give are hollow. There may have been justification but greater depth was in order.
Third, although there is a great deal of information in the book several graphs are presented in a confusing manner i.e. the same color line is used for several curves on the same graph making interpretation almost impossible.
Fourth, reading the book is in many places a lot like taking the SAT or GRE graph interpretation section. There is much here but it would have been much more impressive if the authors had drawn some deeper conclusions than was the case. Probably many will attempt to justify this deficiency by stating that the purpose of the book was the assembly of the data in one place and that others will use the data for developing profound interpretations and conclusions. But I don't believe that will happen: the authors understand that the main users of the book will be institutional and personal investors. That is sad for there is much to be interpreted here in a deep and satisfying manner.
Fifth, the authors clearly suscribe to the idea that the data in this book will help readers determine the most likely future returns of the stock markets. But I suspect strongly that William Bernstein is correct and that past returns are best at determining future risks of investing and rather less usefull for determining future returns. The case the authors make for using the data for determining future results is laughable: in essence everybody else does it. The hypothesis may be true but that is hardly a case for it.
Sixth, it would have been fascinating for the authors to have analysed how open some of these societies were during various periods in the twentieth century and related that to investment performance.
Those that believe a CD or soft copy would have been better because of the more detailed access to the data have missed the point entirely.
In the final analysis there is enough data here to keep political economists, sophisticated investors, and many others occupied for many years-if nothing else they can attempt to fill in some of the gaping holes. For instance, many in the U.S. believe that our inflation numbers for several years now are "cooked" to some extent. Certainly this is true for some other countries as well. Yet every bit of the inflation data is presented as the gospel with no challenge or analysis. If the authors did do some analysis here (or even if the primary sources did) and found the "cooking" insignificant or significant then it seems they should have presented their findings in a more complete fashion. Is the data reliable or not? That is the question. This is just one example out of the entire book. Hardly a page goes by without similar questions arising. Too bad the authors could not be bothered to answer any of them
Finally, it is particulary fun to read Triumph of the Optimists in conjunction with Adventure Capitalist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a knowledge bank, Feb. 2 2003
By 
A. Agarwal (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
I was keenly looking for a topic that I did not find treated in this book either: some correlation between demographics and the performance of stocks and bonds. As the developed world faces unprecedented demographic challenges with decline of the working age populations, I was curious to see its implications analysed in a historical sense (positive or negative). For, this phenomenon alone may render the historical trends that we have come to rely on, irrelevant.
All in all, this book has made a lasting impact on my investment thought process. Among the many titles that I have read on finance and investing, this is definitely the best. For me, this information bank provided insights and perspective like nothing else.
I disagree with a previous reviewer that this is some kind of a Census Bureau document. Sure, a CD ROM would have complemented its utility (while potentially increasing the cost); but that in no way lowers the utility or readability of this great work. If anything, the book contains a lot of graphs, which is great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Investigators, June 23 2002
By 
Brett Steenbarger (Naperville, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
"In writing this book," authors Dimson, Marsh, and Staunton conclude, "we set out to answer four big questions: How have stock markets performed over the twentieth century, domestically and internationally? How has this compared with bonds and bills? What has been the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations? And what toll has inflation taken?"
In answering these questions, the authors have achieved perhaps the greatest triumph: assembling a 101 year database from 16 countries that is free from the "easy data" biases that result from utilizing readily available--but skewed--financial information.
In the spirit of their title, the authors find that stocks worldwide provide real risk-adjusted returns above and beyond bills and bonds. Interestingly, their estimates of risk premia are more modest than those offered by traditional sources. They also provide intriguing support for seasonality effects and the favorable returns associated with high dividend yields, value investing, and worldwide diversification.
Quite simply, I know of no other source of information on the "big picture" of investing that is as thorough or as lucidly outlined. This is a rare work of theoretical *and* practical significance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most Important book for any investment professional, June 12 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
Any serious investor or student of the market should own a copy of this book. This book presents and analyzes data from many countries in a simple, easy to understand manner. It examines seasonal movements in stock prices, moves in different sectors, equity and bond risk premiums, size effects, effects of exchange rates, returns of various investment strategies, the list goes on. It presents over 100 years of stock and bond returns, from seventeen different countries, providing an incredible perspective on market movements.
In order to invest successfully, it is important to study the history of price movements, in various economic conditions. This book contains the information you will need, presented in an easy to understand manner.
To have this amount of data and analysis all in one book, is a huge achievement by the authors, and is of immense benefit to the serious investor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable and important book, June 14 2002
By 
James O'Shaughnessy (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns is a remarkable and important book. Churchill's maxim that "The further backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see" is useful in approaching this book. The authors have painstakingly created data series back to 1900 for 16 countries and come to brilliant conclusions about what the future holds for investors. From the past the future flows, and as long as human beings price securities it is likely that we will continue to make erroneous predictions based upon our most recent experience.
Triumph of the Optimists shows readers what the most likely returns will be for world investors and offers vital data for investors planning for the future. This is a "must have" book for both professional and amateur investors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding accomplishment, July 11 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
If you remove good solid research and objectivity you have the foundation for 90% of the investment books at large. "Triumph", however, is a member of the other elite 10%. The authors have made a tremendous effort to present only the facts. And, they're given to you in a concise, clear fashion with corresponding color graphs for further elucidation. This is an especially gargantuan accomplishment given the wide breadth of data they've tackled. If you're interested in gaining an accurate perspective of the history of global markets, buy this book...if you're not, then all I can say is "eventus stultorum magister".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph is a Triumph, May 15 2003
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
Triumph of the Optimists is a terrific resource for those wanting to know more about how different types of investments have performed in different countries over the long term. This information should appeal to a wide variety of readers including investors trying to globally diversify their portfolios, corporate managers trying to estimate their company's cost of capital, and professors and students of finance seeking a more global perspective on the age-old subject of risk and return.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for serious investor, June 12 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns (Hardcover)
Those looking for a quick-rich tips are urged to look elsewhere, but if you wish to spend more time managing your money than you do planning your next vacation then this book is for you. It is packed with information that is compiled from a wide variety of sources thus providing the reader with a unique investment Weltanschauung that one is unlikely to get from any other source. In this age of doom-and-gloom this book provides a view across the valley.
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Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns
Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns by Mike Staunton (Hardcover - Feb. 3 2002)
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