If you’re a junkie for investment research and have a love of hard arguments and sophisticated mathematics, these sites are full of good stuff. But don’t be embarrassed if you can’t make head nor tail of what you see there! Most people don’t really need to understand all this technical stuff, although it can be lots of fun for anyone with a nerdy streak.
1. ECONOMIC GEEKS
2. FISHER COLLEGE OF BUSINESS RESOURCES
The department of finance at Ohio State (which oversees the prestigious Journal of Finance) runs a website with links to hundreds of academic research centers around the world. If you’re interested in finding out what’s going on anywhere inside the ivory tower, this is a great place to start:
3. SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH NETWORK
If, like me, you’re a hard-core researchivore, you might be interested in subscribing to an academic service, the Social Science Research Network, that sends e-mail notification of new “working papers” by economists, psychologists, historians, and other scholars. For propeller-heads only:
4. NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
A leading institution that funds and publishes academic research in economics and finance is the National Bureau of Economic Research. These guys even have what passes for a sense of humor among economists: a recent paper documented that there’s a correlation between the price of alcohol and the rates of violence on college campuses. Among the broader areas covered: behavioral finance, stock and bond valuation, business history, international markets, pension and retirement issues, questions in public policy:
5. BILL SCHWERT @ UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
Bill Schwert at the University of Rochester has put together a website that’s a rich storehouse of authoritative insights about market efficiency, stock price volatility, the performance of IPOs, the behavior of stocks that go through mergers or takeovers, and seasonal patterns in stock returns. Schwert also has the courtesy to make much of his raw data available for those who are curious or would like to use it for their own purposes. His research is impeccable; his papers are complex but full of elegant charts that help make market history understandable.
6. WILLIAM BERNSTEIN’S EFFICIENT FRONTIER
William Bernstein, a neurologist who moonlights as a financial planner, has an extraordinarily informative site covering asset allocation, market efficiency and portfolio theory.
7. WILL GOETZMANN @ YALE UNIVERSITY
Will Goetzmann, professor of finance at Yale University’s School of Management, has a terrific home page full of thought-provoking research on mutual funds and financial markets worldwide.
8. MEIR STATMAN @ SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY
As creative as he is productive, finance professor Meir Statman of Santa Clara University makes dozens of his papers available for free download. Covering everything from diversification to the emotional pitfalls of hindsight and regret, they’re amply rewarding for advanced investors.
9. TERRY ODEAN @ UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY
Terry Odean of the University of California at Berkeley has done groundbreaking research showing how well individual investors actually fare in the real world. (Hint: We’re not as great as we think.) He shows definitively that those who trade less outperform those who trade more — and that women outperform men as investors. If you want to learn what the experience of other people can teach you about your own likely performance, this is an excellent place to start.
10. INVESTOR HOME
InvestorHome, maintained by financial analyst and advisor Gary Karz, is one of the best landing places on the investing Internet. Karz spends zero time gussying up the site to make it look nice, but he has made it encyclopedic. Hundreds (thousands?) of topical links take you to comprehensive sources of objective information and original research. If someone is trying to get you to invest in some new technique or “strategy,” start your research here.
11. ABNORMAL RETURNS
Tadas Viskanta, a former portfolio manager, runs the best financial linkfest anywhere. Every day, he rounds up whatever is worth reading and presents it all without any fuss or favor. To stay current on what matters, and to tune out what doesn’t, this is the place.
It’s still a good idea to keep your pocket calculator handy and a fully-loaded version of Excel on your hard drive, but the Internet makes lots of good calculators available for free. Here are some I’ve found especially useful.
1. INFLATION CALCULATORS
What’s the value in today’s dollars of an amount from the past? How much was $1.00 in today’s money worth a hundred years ago? These sites calculate how inflation changes the purchasing power of money over time.
A link list of inflation calculators compiled by Roy Davies, a British science librarian and son of an eminent financial historian. Here you can find the current value of such things as spices in London in 1438 or the Norwegian krone back to 1865:
2. FINANCIAL CALCULATORS (MISCELLANEOUS)
Concisely annotated, this exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) clearinghouse site may be the most complete directory of financial calculators anywhere on the Web. I recommend it as the finder of last, not first, resort; chances are, whatever you’re looking for is here, but it’s best to use this site for searching only when nothing else has worked:
3. EXPENSE CALCULATORS
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers a cost calculator for mutual fund investors. This relatively crude tool requires you to input the fund’s expenses yourself (the SEC asks you to look them up in the fund’s prospectus!); no allowance is made for the fund’s own brokerage costs; the prompts abound with jargon like “deferred sales charge”; and, most irksomely of all, each item of data you enter summons up a new screen. Andrew Tobias’ www.personalfund.com is better, but requires paid registration. At least the SEC calculator is free: