556 of 579 people found the following review helpful
With this book, I give up my remaining trust in cover blurbs.
, November 8, 2008
This review is from: When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change (Hardcover)
I bought this book because it won the Financial Times Book of the Year Award (not a top ten winner or something, #1 mind you). Historically, a reliable guide (e.g., the masterpiece China Shakes the World, and theoretically dubious but highly provocative Friedman's World is Flat). It has dawned on me belatedly that advance praisers probably don't read their books. All these absolutely glowing endorsements by serious people...for a book that *clearly* isn't top notch.
T. Bojko's review may seem harsh, but it's spot-on. I can live with the ponderous writing style. I initially thought the big words concealed some new or profound thinking...but not at all.
The problems are: 1. there's almost nothing new or inspired about the "markets of tomorrow," and 2. there is nary a sliver of new, actionable advice about investing. The whole thing is a compendium of the superficial. Seeking to cut a swath a mile wide, it is everywhere one inch deep.
In regard to the first, the following are superficially summarized: global trade/capital flows (rightly footnoted to Martin Wolf, but Wolf's own columns are better on this); a cocktail of snippets on behavioral finance - called a "cocktail" - just read Shiller straightaway; some stuff on global trade and commodities, see latest Economist; a paraphrase of Taleb's colorful insights (just read Taleb directly); a woefully weak primer-not-really on securitization; a brief primer on asset classes that repeats everything I've got in a dozen other finance books; and too much material on IMF (e.g., not a single mention of Basel). I agree the topics per se are important, but most of them here are superficially derivative of other, better works.
Here are the four insights from Chapter 2: we are coming from a period of aberrations, many puzzles; too many dismissed them as noise; the inability to distinguish signal from noise is a bad thing; the adjustment caught people off guard. I'm not kidding. The blinding insight is: take care to distinguish signal from noise! Noise bad, signal good....
Strangest of all, in my opinion, is that the author appears to have nothing to add to the field of risk management, which stuns me given his unique vantage point. Risk management is reduced to a few catchphrases: tail risk, moral hazard, principal-agent. Say it ain't so...
Finally, T. Bojko is right about the mundane asset allocation plan: "the author just lays out a pretty mundane asset allocation plan (which is available for free on any number of websites) and then fills a couple dozen pages with worthless blather. Seriously, that's it." That's exactly right.
The book boils down to: big "structural" change is coming, try to sort signal from noise, here's pointers to a bunch of good reading material, I worked at the IMF, start with this generic plan.
I saved you a few bucks. More to the point, I wasted my time reading this book so you don't have to. Since that time is lost to me forever, the least you can do is vote my review "helpful."
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