The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism


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John C. Bogle

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A financial expert explains what’s wrong in corporate, investment, and mutual fund America, the reasons behind the problems, and what should be done about it

There is no one better qualified to tell us about the failures of the American financial system and the grotesque abuses that have taken place in recent years than John Bogle, who as founder and former chief executive of the Vanguard mutual funds group has seen firsthand the innermost workings of the financial industry. A zealous advocate for the small investor for more than fifty years, Bogle has championed the restoration of integrity in industry practices. As an astute observer and commentator, he knows that a trustworthy business and financial complex is essential to America’s continuing leadership in the world and to social and economic progress at home.

This book tells not just a story about what went wrong but, more important, the story of why we lost our way and of how we can right our course. Bogle argues for a return to a governance structure in which owners’ capital that has been put at risk is used in their interests rather than in the interests of corporate and financial managers. Given that ownership is now consolidated in the hands of relatively few large mutual and pension funds, the specific reforms Bogle details in this book are essential as well as practical. Every investor, analyst, Wall-Streeter, policy maker, and businessperson should read this deeply informed book.

John C. Bogle is founder and former CEO of Vanguard mutual funds. In 2004, Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world. In 1999, Fortune magazine named him one of the four investment giants of the twentieth century.

“[Bogle’s] book is yet another important contribution in an illustrious career."—Arthur Levitt










"This is an important book for the post-Enron era. In his characteristic hard hitting style, one of the legends of the mutual fund industry presents an insider’s view of what’s wrong with corporate America and what can be done to improve it."—Burton G. Malkiel, Princeton University

Simply put, capitalism has too many characters and not enough men of character. When one of the few tells us that the system he loves is ailing, and how he'd fix it, we had best listen."—Cliff Asness Ph.D., Managing and Founding Principal, AQR Capital Management

"In his characteristic style, Bogle delivers strong medicine for what ails our capital markets and corporate governance framework. Not all will agree with everything that he has written, but they would be wise to take note, as his message is resounding and his proposals go to the heart of crucial debates about management, ownership, and value creation."— Devin Wenig, President, Business Divisions, Reuters Group

“Jack Bogle has written a brilliant and insightful book that highlights the many ways that our economy has suffered because managers have placed their own economic interests ahead of those of owners and investors. Bogle offers prescriptions that, if enacted, will help prevent a repeat of the scandals that we have witnessed over the past five years.”—Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General, New York

"John Bogle has written an insightful book with great historical and contemporary perspective. His analysis of what has gone wrong and what needs to be done should be required reading for students, financial practitioners, and official policymakers."—Henry Kaufman, President of Henry Kaufman and Company, Inc.

"Bogle describes the continuous struggle for control of our capitalistic system, the odds being heavily in favor of the managers.  Individual investors and beneficiaries remain helpless, intermediaries are passive or conflicted, and boards not yet effective.  You owe it to yourself to read this book and reflect on his call for further federal intervention to restore some balance."—Ira Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP  

"Once again Jack Bogle is the clearest and most courageous voice pointing out critical flaws in our governance and financial system but also showing in constructive, brilliant ways how to make the timely repairs. This book presents a rare blend of erudition, experience, and utility. It should be required reading for CEOs, public policy leaders, and MBA students—if not all informed investors."—Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale University

"In this tour de force, Bogle subjects corporate America to a forceful critique. Keen insights, rich experience, and moral courage shine throughout. Anyone interested in our corporate system should read this book, and those who do will never see corporate America the same again."—Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard University 

"This superb book should be a required reading for every business student in college. Like a fine surgeon, Jack Bogle dissects what is wrong with the capital markets from an investor’s view, and at the same time provides a well-reasoned cure."—Lynn Turner, Former Chief Accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

"Jack Bogle has done more to protect corporate shareholders from mounting abuses at the hands of greedy and negligent CEOs, directors, and money managers than anyone in America. The case he makes here is so powerful and well reasoned that our Washington politicians will be hard pressed to ignore it."—Mario Cuomo, 52nd Governor, New York State

"John Bogle has done more to help ordinary investors than any other person in America today. He continues his battle on behalf of shareholders with this impassioned new book. Every investor and every policy maker should read his ideas for reform."—Peter Fitzgerald, U.S. Senator for Illinois, Retired

"The American wage earners’ pension and 401(k) savings are now a major source of capital. Incredibly, although the source of capital is democratized, wealth is more concentrated. Jack Bogle finds this contradiction unacceptable and in this book shows us how to democratize the rewards of capitalism."—Ray Carey, author of Democratic Capitalism: The Way to a World of Peace and Plenty

"This book is a gift to the reading and investing public. Bogle uniquely understands mutual funds and everyone needs to listen when he warns of the deceptions that have plagued the industry. Investors will profit if they follow his simple straightforward advice."—Robert A.G. Monks, author of Corporate Governance

"Jack Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism is arguably the most important treatise on the bubble era. Policymakers, investment fiduciaries and individual investors should read and act upon Bogle’s prescriptions. The stakes are high: our collective financial souls."—Steve Galbraith, Limited Partner, Maverick Capital

"Jack Bogle says exactly what needs to be said, and he does it with gusto. His tales and lessons should be required reading for any business leader, plus they offer great insights for smart investors."—Walter Isaacson, The Aspen Institute

"Over the past half century, American capitalism nearly lost its soul. One of the few who noticed was Jack Bogle. Now, for the first time, he tells the whole tale as only Jack Bogle can: just what happened, just how it happened, and just how to fix it. This is mandatory reading for anyone with a dollar to invest or an interest in the future of American capitalism."—William Bernstein, author of The Birth of Plenty


"Jack Bogle’s brilliant tour de force provides the first integrated view of how our system of investing often destroys more value than it creates. Bogle clearly understands how the system works and how perverse motivations are undermining value creation. Always a pragmatic, he offers workable and practical solutions of how to get back on track."—William W. George, Former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Inc.

“Anyone who cares about American business ought to be concerned about the dire warnings in the latest book by John C. Bogle. . . . Bogle, a lifelong Republican founded the Vanguard Group, the second-biggest mutual fund company. But that doesn't make him a corporate apologist. . . . Bogle's been proved right so often, it would be foolhardy to bet against him.”—Kim Clark, U.S. News & World Report

"Mr. Bogle, now retired, is not interested in taking a victory lap and relaxing a little.  He still wants to clobber his opponents. . . . Mr. Bogle scores many hits."—Todd G. Buchholz, Wall Street Journal

“When John Bogle, a 50-year veteran in financial services, says capitalism is in trouble, there is only one proper reaction. You listen. . . . Remarkably well read and logical, Bogle is meticulous in supporting his thesis that our brand of capitalism is failing because of a shift of power away from owners.”—Russ Juskalian, USA Today

"Bogle . . . adeptly explains how corporate, investment and mutual fund America collapsed and how they can rebuild. . . . Not only does he offer investors an understanding of what went wrong and how to correct it, but also hope that it can change and the confidence that our basic system—capitalism—is solid. . . . If you want information whose value cannot be manipulated by any manager in any market, this book is a must read."—Elizabeth Thompson, Stocks Futures & Options Magazine

"Bogle . . . makes clear what went wrong and who is to blame. . . . [A] clear, well-reasoned and forcibly stated argument."—Paul B. Brown, New York Times

"If you read no other book the rest of the year, you must read The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism by John C. Bogle. . . . Read it during the end-of-year holiday break, if you can’t read it before. And you must urge your clients to read it also. It will cause you and your clients to think differently about equity investing, whether directly or through intermediaries. It will make you angry, and it might encourage you and your clients to take proxy voting more seriously and perhaps become shareholder activists."—Mike Clowes, Investment News

"When the writer is John C. Bogle, ignore the bombast and pay attention. . . . Emboldened by the flood of scandals since the bubble burst, Bogle has written his broadest broadside yet. The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism attacks not only mutual funds but also corporations, boards of directors, regulators, and investors. No one is immune from Bogle’s scourge. . . . [The book] springs to life with Bogle’s knack for presenting data in a lively, fascinating and persuasive manner. . . . Though unsurprisingly at his strongest when laying out the failures of the mutual fund industry, he presents a very cogent analysis of such current hot-button issues as the hedge fund bubble and corporations’ faulty pension-return assumptions. . . . Bogle is also erudite, sprinkling the text with references to the likes of Mark Twain, Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton."—Peter Lattman, Forbes

“John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard mutual-funds group, launches a personal crusade against all that he sees as wrong in business and finance. . . . Among his targets: inflated corporate pay, the shaky state of the U.S. pension scene and too great an emphasis on the short term. He even suggests a high tax on short-term trading gains.”—Jay Palmer, Barron’s (The Best Books of 2005)

"In his so-called retirement, Bogle has crafted a policy statement detailing what's wrong with our country's financial system and how it should be fixed. The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism is Bogle's signal flare alerting investors everywhere to pay attention to what's happening or risk losing all they've worked so hard for to unscupulous corporate and financial interests. When an expert like Bogle speaks out on abuses, we should listen. I can't think of any opinion on the subject I'd trust more than Bogle's, and I read this book with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed. . . . Bogle submits strong evidence to support his thesis that corporate America doesn't get it when it comes to treating the consumer with respect and doesn't much care to, either."—Angele McQuade, Betterinvesting

Passionate, direct and eminently thoughtful, this is a book that rises to that rare ‘must read’ level.

“Passionate, direct and eminently thoughtful, this is a book that rises to that rare ‘must read’ level.”—Jeffrey Marshall, Financial Executive

"It’s an eye-opener. It will scare you."—Neil Cavuto, Fox News

"The year's most potent insider exposé of investors' failure to act as owners."—Global Proxy Watch

"...[Bogle has a] fine analytical ability and strong moral sense...we should be grateful that an insider like him is willing to elucidate the often murky workings of [Wall] Street." - Jeff Madrick, International Herald Tribune

"Bogle . . . cuts to the bone."—Greg Bright, Investment & Technology

"Bogle . . . is as pugnacious as ever in his new book."—Todd Mason, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A worthy jeremiad against corporate excess. . . . [Bogle] deserves attention in the precincts of power."—Publishers Weekly

"Jack Bogle is that rarest of figures—a brilliant financier who never found that his integrity interfered with the creation of value. . . . He is always candid and to the point, which makes this book not only filled with insight and vision, but a pleasure to read."—Nell Minow, The Corporate Library


“Mr. Bogle tells it like it is, like it was and, most important, tells what needs to be done to restore the values of faith, integrity and trust that were once hallmarks of corporate America and the financial sectors. Coming from the founder of the Vanguard mutual-fund family, this is no ‘lefty’ read.”—Wall Street Journal (Recommended Reading)

"Indispensable. . . . If you have the time or inclination to read only one [book on the stock market collapse], read Bogle. Not only is his book a lucid summary of all that went wrong. more important, Bogle is uniquely credible as the rare insider who knows just how the game is rigged—and is disgusted enough to tell what he knows."—Robert Kuttner, American Prospect

"This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the current corporate and economic state of affairs as well as the long-term well-being of our nation."—Thomas J. Mackell Jr., Directors & Boards

“Bogle’s discussion of the need for corporate managers to operate in stockholders’ best interests and for investors and portfolio managers to return to an ‘own-a-stock’ instead of the current ‘rent-a-stock’ mentality is must reading for anyone interested in corporate governance and the reformation of financial markets. Highly recommended.”—Choice


"John Bogle, one of the giants of American finance . . . unleashes a coruscating attack on the financial industry for its misconduct. Bogle describes the top scandals of recent years, and tries to refocus corporate management where it belongs: on servicing its investor-owners. . . . Conservatives, and others, who seek to understand and critique how the market actually works should read this important book."—The University Bookman

"[A] meticulous account of how the financial-services kleptocracy has been looting investors and destroying companies. . . . Anyone who wonders why the privatization of social benefits is such a dreadful idea can turn to Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of American Capitalism."—Charles R. Morris, Commonweal

"With more than 50 years of hands-on experience, much of it at the very pinnacle of the financial world, and now detached from any personal involvement, Bogle is uniquely qualified to appraise these matters. His book should be read by investors, lay and professional, as well as by all citizens concerned about the future of the U.S. economy."—Victor F. Morris, CFA Institute Publications

Selected for AAUP Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2006

Selected as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review

Named a Best Book of 2005 by Barron's.
ISBN: 9780300119718
Publication Date: November 27, 2006
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4