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Abnormal Returns, by Tadas Viskanta- a book review Print

So what to do?

If active, beat the market, investing is not for you, what should you aim for?

The book states that:

  •  Becoming a merely competent investor seems like a worthy goal, considering that only a small fraction of people are truly proficient investors (p. xi).
  • Life is too short to add complexity to our lives when simplicity is a far more sustainable strategy (p. xiii).
  • Aim to minimize time loss and decision fatigue (p. 188)
  • Avoid the prediction addiction (p. 188). We should try to avoid investing with forecasts, a key advantage of diversification and indexing.

So, should people be do-it-yourself (DIY) investors? The book (p. 159) stakes out the following intermediate position.

None of us are experts in all fields such as investing, retirement planning, income taxes, estate planning, therefore hiring a qualified professional is the prudent thing to do- the value-added of a financial adviser is not trying to beat the market, but acting as an emotional buffer- this role can also be played by spouse or colleague with whom investor discusses his plans (p. 188).

And if you do retain an adviser, do not underestimate the time required to identify, research and monitor an investment adviser

Finally, the book puts in a favorable word or two for algorithmic investment services and more sophisticated automated investment plans, which can make life easier for many investors (p. 194).

Other helpful advice

The book reiterates positions which readers of our site are probably familiar with:

  • On the perennial question, why bother investing in bonds, the book states: because equities are only 25% of the value of global capital markets (p. 35), and because investing in bonds protects against financial crises, and against the risk of economic deflation (p.51).
  • avoid leverage, which creates higher psychological hurdles (p.72).
  • avoid most illiquid assets, which  add costs and complexity  (p.72).
  • on alternative investments- avoid asset classes that derive returns primarily from market-beating strategies (p. 136).
  • there is far more investment noise than information; cut back on news consumption or try to consume in a smarter, more focused way (p. 164). There is however value in reading widely (p. 174)
  • avoid short-term thinking (p. 176)
  • minimize costs and taxes (p. 182).


This review has only scratched the surface of this book. We both enjoyed reading it and found it informative. It gives excellent references and links to support the positions it takes. We recommend our readers buy it.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 May 2013 )
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