Don’t Read Investing Books

Over at our sister publication, Investor’s Daily Edge, they’ve just interviewed resident bond expert Steve McDonald. And if you’re the type of investor swayed by cable news hype or what’s on the bestseller lists, you should take a look. Here’s an excerpt:

Andy: What investment book would you recommend to our readers?

Steve: I stopped reading investment books in the early 80s!

I started investing as a hobby while I was still flying for the Navy. I began investing because that was all anybody talked about in the “Ready Room.” It was the Reagan Revolution, and for the first time people were putting money into IRAs… buying mutual funds… shares of stocks.

The guys I flew with were all reading investment books. And I tried reading them. But most of the books had the same introduction and same conclusion with maybe one or two ideas in between that might work. I didn’t get much out of them.

When people ask me, “Is there anything I could read that could help me?” my answer is “No. The best thing you can do is take $2,000, start a portfolio with a few shares of stock, and follow some solid fundamental rules. You learn a helluva lot by putting your own money at risk. You learn those lessons when you see your money going away. And when you see something working that you’d thought would work before you did it, that teaches you more than any book. That’s the way to do it.”

For more of this interview and Steve’s unconventional take on investing (including the influence of long-legged blondes), go here. Then sign up for Investor’s Daily Edge to get a truly contrarian take on today’s markets.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]