About me

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Hi there! This is the official website of journalist and author Spencer Jakab. If you’re interested in my book or my professional writing, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re more interested in food, travel, or just me personally, check out my private website, Cacophony and Cheese.

I write for and am the deputy editor of the Journal’s “Heard on the Street” column. It has run in the paper in one form or another since the 1920s and is regarded as the leading financial and economic analysis opinion column around. Before that I wrote the “Ahead of the Tape” column which runs each weekday and previews the day’s most important economic or business event. Prior to joining the WSJ I wrote “Lex” for Britain’s Financial Times, a storied column that carries no byline but is produced by a team of talented writers on three continents, and also the weekend “On Wall Street” column. I got my start in journalism at Dow Jones Newswires where I wrote an award-winning investing column and reported about energy, contributing several pieces to Barron’s Magazine.

My first career was in finance. I lived in Europe for a decade, mostly working as an emerging markets stock analyst and later the head of a stock research team at a major investment bank. I learned a lot, traveled to some very cool places, but got bored with corporate life and decided to write about money instead of making so darn much of it.

Nearly everything I know about investing was picked up on the job or through reading but, for what it’s worth, earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, a certificate from The Harriman Institute at the same place,  and an B.A. in political science from Brandeis University.

I can be reached at spencerjakabauthor (at) gmail.com and followed:

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2 Comments

  1. Mr. Jakab: Am reading your fine book and it confirms most of my suspicions about the finance advice trade. I am not a skeptic, just have a few tread marks left by trying to pick winners/losers! Am I correct in assuming, although I’m only halfway thru your book, that the “index funds” offer most unsophisticated investors the most likelihood of surviving with their initial capital, much less a small return? Just had to ask for some advice, you know!

    Lao Tzu: “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

    Regards,

    H. L. Hackney
    118 Front Street, Unit # 101
    Franklin, TN 37064-5146
    423-667-0620

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    Reply

    1. Mr. Hackney,

      Thanks for your note. The evidence is very strong that a regularly rebalanced portfolio of passive funds gives investors a clear edge due to costs alone. For example, even if you assume that a portfolio manager’s stock selection will be no worse than the market and that an investor won’t compound the damage by buying and selling, the difference in average expense ratio alone would leave an investor with 30% more over 40 years. That understates the gap though because active funds are also less tax-efficient and incur more hidden expenses such as the need to hold cash to meet redemptions.

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