A group of elderly women from Beardstown, Ill. caused a stir in the mid-'90s when they claimed their club, founded in 1983, had realized an annual return of more than 23% on their investments. The book they published, "The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide," became a New York Times best-seller.
But the folksy know-how of the group proved too good to be true and the impressive numbers attributable to mathematical errors. The group checked its 23% number with an auditor who discovered the return was really 9.1%, well under the Standard & Poor 500's record average at the time. Turns out, one of the basic requirements of getting returns like Buffett is doing the math right.
It's one step forward and two steps back in today's upside-down economy. From strong corporate earnings to a manufacturing rebound, everything that's going right in the economy has too many negative factors underlying it. More
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