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Books of the month: Off the shelf

Next, we have Glenn Martin?s (Wadham, 1967), slender paperback 7 Successful Stock Market Strategies. Publishers Harriman-House present it as a ?self-help/get rich? book ? I mean the cover – but the content is very lucid indeed. The author had a long career in the City and rose to Chief Information Officer for various investment banks. His approach to ?beating the market? is conveyed with emphatic anti-enthusiasm. Investing is not gambling and there are no silver bullets, he contends. However, he argues, it is possible to value the whole market using a series of data points entered into a spreadsheet. He tells you exactly how to create and maintain that spreadsheet. Currently (by which I mean the FTSE 100 above 6,000) the market is poor value. Martin?s seven strategies range from buy and hold to spread trading that will only appeal to seasoned hands.

For my money, pun intended, you can learn a lot from the book without upending your SIPP strategy. Martin repeatedly makes the point that even the first, simplest strategy (buy a tracker fund and do nothing) will still beat cash hands-down, and not just in an era of low interest rates.

On his website, Martin refers to a similarity between the Nobel-prize winning Black-Scholes formula of valuation, and his own (although they are not the same). Keen readers of Oxford Today will recall that a certain descendant of Black is the librarian of Blackfriars Hall in Oxford, and that he had something to say about his Uncle Black and Myron Scholes.

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