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Sceptical Investor: How contrarians bet against the market and win - and you can too

by John Stepek Harriman House
Pub Date:
Pbk 288 pages
AU$39.99 NZ$41.73
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Everyone wants to be a contrarian investor. From the hedge funds who bet against the US housing market in the run up to 2008, to George Soros’s billion-dollar bet against the Bank of England in 1992, some of the most famous and most profitable trades in history have been contrarian calls.


And with the relentless growth of passive investing - investors blindly following the market - the opportunities for a smart investor to profit by betting against the crowd should be greater than ever.

Yet being a contrarian is hard work.


It takes patience, the conviction to stand by an unpopular viewpoint, and the mental toughness to endure being 'wrong' for prolonged periods of time. Standing out from the crowd goes against our every natural instinct.


Which is, of course, why it works.


So how do you go about it? There is no single, mechanical investment approach that marks an investor out as a contrarian. Instead, you need to adopt a sceptical mindset: a flexible mode of thinking that allows you to stand back and spot when the market’s view of the world is badly out of touch with reality - and the best way to profit when reality eventually reasserts itself.


In The Sceptical Investor, John Stepek, executive editor of MoneyWeek, pulls together the latest research on behavioural finance, and examples from well-known contrarian investors, to offer practical techniques to help you to spot opportunities in common investment situations, from turnaround plays to bubbles and busts, that others in the market miss. It won't make you popular and it won't make you famous. But it will make you money.


Chapter 1: What is Contrarian Investing?

Chapter 2: Why Sceptical Investing Works

Chapter 3: Why Should I be a Sceptical Investor?

Chapter 4: Your Big Advantage Over the Professionals

Chapter 5: You Versus the Crowd

Chapter 6: Beating Your Brain - Process Versus Outcome

Chapter 7: How to Use the Media

Chapter 8: The Incredible Power of Incentives

Chapter 9: The Importance of Intellectual Humility

Chapter 10: How to Spot Bubbles and What to Do About Them

Chapter 11: Finding the World's Cheapest Markets

Chapter 12: The Dangerous Temptation of Making Better Forecasts

Chapter 13: Buying Companies for Less Than They're Worth

Chapter 14: Turnaround Situations, Falling Knives and Profit Warnings

Chapter 15: Finding a Contrarian Fund Manager

“Packed with practical behavioural advice ... I recommend it without reservation.”  Tim Price, bestselling author of Investing Through the Looking Glass


"John has been writing about investing, and meeting with the key characters in the investment world, for over 15 years. You'll want to read what he has to say very carefully - and make sure that anyone managing your money reads it too." Merryn Somerset Webb


"John is one of Britain’s foremost financial writers and in this entertaining book he wants you to know why an understanding of human behaviour is an important part of any investment process. Knowing when to resist the siren voice of the crowd is one of the great challenges of investing. The book is packed with information about why the most comfortable investments are rarely the most profitable." Alaisdair McKinnon; Chief Executive Officer, Chief Investment Officer, Manager - The Scottish Investment Trust PLC


"Highly recommended." Paul Summers, The Motley Fool
John Stepek has been writing about business, economics and investment for more than 20 years.


He is the executive editor of MoneyWeek, Britain’s bestselling weekly investment magazine. Since 2005, he has been the main author on its investment newsletter, Money Morning, which goes out by email to more than 85,000 readers each day. MoneyWeek is well-known for its contrarian investment views - most notably for warning repeatedly, well before the fall of Northern Rock or Lehman Brothers, that the collapse in US house prices in 2006 would mutate into a much more damaging financial crisis.


Before he became a journalist, Stepek worked for his family's business, a chain of electrical retail shops in the east end of Glasgow, but then decided that he would rather write for a living. He started out by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms and now writes about all aspects of financial markets, from bonds to gold to derivatives. He studied psychology at university and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.


His work has been published in The Spectator and The Sunday Times as well as a wide range of specialist financial magazines. He has appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. You can follow him on Twitter at @John_Stepek.