Book Review: Abnormal Returns

Abnormal Returns

I consider Tadas Viskanta to be a friend of mine.  I write my eclectic blog, and Tadas occasionally features me on his daily curation of the economics/finance/investment blogosphere.

But it is not friendship that leads me to write the following: this is a really good book.  Why?  Every day, Tadas curates the best thoughts in finance.  He finds them, he motivates them, and links to them.  If I had just one site to visit everyday, it would be his, not mine.  He’s really good at finding the best content in finance.

But it goes a step further than that.  Tadas is a very good blogger in his own right.  It’s not that he comes up with new insights, but he is very good at taking the insights of others and weaves them into a greater insight than the separate thoughts of the individuals.  He finds themes, and he finds disagreements.  Each provides good food for thought.

Now, if Tadas can do this on a daily basis, let’s call him the Chief Synthesizer of the economics/finance/investment blogosphere — then, what happens if he decides to take several steps back, and synthesize the grand themes he has seen in six years of writing his blog.

It’s been a violent period, after all.  Tadas has been blogging from the peak of residential real estate (October 2005), through the tail of the boom (October 2007), to the bust (March 2009), to the present.  He keeps it relevant, and he doesn’t take sides, which allows him to source the best content better.

So as he synthesizes the themes of the last six or seven years, he comes down to really basic ideas for each chapter: Risk, Return, Stocks, Bonds, Portfolio Management, Does Active Investing Work, ETFs, Global Investing, Alternative Assets, Behavioral Finance, Using Media, and the Lost Decade.  He handles them deftly, highlighting differences, but giving a consensus opinion.

The book is modest, in that it does not promise you greater profits if you follow his advice.  It is a realistic book, because most of us know that the basic principles of investing are straightforward, but they get clouded by academics and hucksters.  After you read this book, you may or may not earn more, but you will probably be safer.

Also, the book is an easy read; I glided through it in less than three hours.


The editor could have done more work to make the index complete; I was surprised to find myself mentioned in the book more times than the index noted.

Who would benefit from this book: Most amateur investors would benefit from the book, and many, though not all professionals would benefit from the book’s basic approach. Think of it this way — what if you could explain basic concepts to the uninstructed more clearly? Wouldn’t it help you in your business?  If you want to, you can buy the book here: Abnormal Returns: Winning Strategies from the Frontlines of the Investment Blogosphere.

Full disclosure: I asked the publisher for the book and he sent it to me.

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