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The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, Updated and Revised by John C. Bogle

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Introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition

Don’t Allow a Winner’s Game to Become a Loser’s Game.

SUCCESSFUL INVESTING IS ALL about common sense. As Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, has said, it is simple, but it is not easy. Simple arithmetic suggests, and history confirms, that the winning strategy for investing in stocks is to own all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost. By doing so you are guaranteed to capture almost the entire return that these businesses generate in the form of dividends and earnings growth.

The best way to implement this strategy is indeed simple: Buy a fund that holds this all-market portfolio, and hold it forever. Such a fund is called an index fund. The index fund is simply a basket (portfolio) that holds many, many eggs (stocks) designed to mimic the overall performance of the U.S. stock market (or any financial market or market sector).1 The traditional index fund (TIF), by definition, basically represents the entire stock market basket, not just a few scattered eggs. It eliminates the risk of picking individual stocks, the risk of emphasizing certain market sectors, and the risk of manager selection. Only stock market risk remains. (That risk is quite large enough, thank you!) Index funds make up for their lack of short-term excitement by their truly exciting long-term productivity. The TIF is designed to be held for a lifetime.

The index fund eliminates the risks of individual stocks, market sectors, and manager ...

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