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Random Walk Down Wall Street

Random Walk Down Wall Street

It has now been close to thirty years since I began writing the first edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street. The message of the original edition was a very simple one: Investors would be far better off buying and holding an index fund than attempting to buy and sell individual securities or actively managed mutual funds. I boldly stated that buying and holding all the stocks in a broad, stock-market average?as index funds do?was likely to outperform professionally managed funds whose high expense charges and large trading costs detract substantially from investment returns. Now, some thirty years later, I believe even more strongly in that original thesis, and there’s more than a six-figure gain to prove it. The chart on the following page makes the case with great simplicity. It shows how an investor with $10,000 at the start of 1969 would have fared investing in a Standard & Poor’s 500-Stock Index Fund. For comparison, the results are also plotted for a second investor who instead purchased shares in the average actively managed fund. The difference is dramatic. Through June 30, 1998, the index investor was ahead by almost $140,000, with her original $10,000 increasing thirty-one-fold to $311,000. And the index returns were calculated after deducting the typical expenses (2/10 of 1 percent) charged for running an index fund.

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