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Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side Hardcover – Illustrated, October 2, 2018
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From the Publisher
A Note to Readers from Howard Marks, author of Mastering the Market Cycle
Investors clearly could do much better if they knew what lies ahead. But they can’t. Few people can accurately predict what the future holds in store for the economy and markets, and fewer still know enough about these things to out-think and thus out-invest the general consensus of investors whose views are incorporated into – 'discounted by' – the market prices of securities. But we know economies and markets follow an up-and-down pattern called a cycle and, importantly, knowing where we currently stand with regard to the economic cycle and the market cycle can give us a better idea of what lies ahead. This is a process through which investors can get the odds on their side.
When the economy is just beginning to recover from a slowdown and the markets are picking themselves up off the floor after a bust, it’s highly likely that security prices haven’t been lifted to precarious levels by large doses of investor optimism.
Pleasant surprises are more likely to lie ahead than disappointments; investors will probably come to be persuaded of these things over time and thus become buyers; and their buying should cause security prices to rise. At such a point – when economies and markets are low in their cycles – good things are more likely to lie ahead than bad things.
Since security prices aren’t inflated, buying at that point is likely to make for significant appreciation and entail little risk.
And on the contrary, when the recovery and bull market have been rolling for a while, investors are likely to be feeling good, and their optimism is likely to be incorporated in security prices.
Thus prices may be at risky highs; disappointments are more likely to lie ahead than good news; and thus risk may be high and appreciation hard to come by. All these things mean that when we’re high in the cycle, the odds are against you. When others feel good and drive prices to highs, it’s time to cut risk and take some of your money off the table.
In all these things, the operative words are 'likely' and probable.' So while we can’t know what the future holds, we can have a better idea whether the wind is at our back or in our face. The best investors have a sense for where we stand in the cycle and thus whether it’s time to build more aggressiveness or more defensiveness into their portfolios. This book will teach you what cycles are, what causes their rise and fall, and thus how to tell what investment moves are most likely to succeed.
“Howard Marks’s Mastering the Market Cycle is a must-read, because the cycles covered in this book are important and because Howard is one of the investing greats of his generation.” —Ray Dalio, Co-Chief Investment Officer and Co-Chairman, Bridgewater Associates
“I always say, ‘There’s no better teacher than history in determining the future.’ Howard’s book tells us how to learn from history . . . and thus get a better idea of what the future holds.”—Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
“While most investment professionals take the standard out – that ‘you can’t time the market’ – in Mastering the Market Cycle Howard Marks, a living investment legend, takes the contrarian point of view that not only can you time markets, but it’s imperative that you do so.”—Bill Gurley, General Partner, Benchmark
“Mastering the Market Cycle reveals how cycles not only coincide with, but also cause, financial market risk and opportunity. Written in plain English, Howard Marks’s hard-earned wisdom will help readers tilt the odds in their favor.”—Jeffrey Gundlach, Founder, DoubleLine Capital
”If you’re uncertain as to whether there will be a correction in the market – or if you think there’s no reason to worry because ‘it’s different this time’ – you have to read this book before you make a move.” —Carl C. Icahn, Chairman, Icahn Enterprises
Praise for Howard Marks’s THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
“When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they’re the first thing I open and read. I always learn something, and that goes double for his book.” —Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- ISBN-10 : 1328479250
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1328479259
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.11 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Illustrated Edition (October 2, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In many ways, Marks is a very quirky writer. As other folks have noted, he does repeat things from time to time, and his style is so easy going you might be tempted to think it is simplistic - but don't make this insanely bad mistake. Marks is easy to read because he covers his material and thoughts with absolute precision, because he has thought long and hard about what to say, and the continuous repetition occurs because that's how things work in life - they are interconnected. Besides, repetition in this manner is EXACTLY how you want a complicated topic to be taught, and Marks is a master at instruction.
Course, I have another reason for getting excited about this book - I recognize the scared frightened investor I was in 2008 and 2009, and if I'd read this book - or all those Memo's - and actually internalized them I'm next to certain my results would have been much improved. And isn't that what we want in our investment books - an improvement in our technique? I can think of no higher compliment.
This is a phenomenal book and if you manage money for a living you'd be a fool not to read it, and if you invest for yourself you are going to learn a lot. I mean, a lot - and you are going to reread this thing again and again. This is a VERY deep thinking book by a guy with a lot to teach, and opportunities like this one don't come along very often.
And you get this wisdom and knowledge for $18? Absolutely crazy - thanks to the author, thank you very much.
Marks cites five critical cycles: 1) economic, 2) profits, 3) stock market 4) credit and 5) risk. An investor has to know where we are with respect to each of those cycles and most important is the risk cycle which is determined by the psychology of investors. Simply put are they greedy or are they fearful. Although this sounds easy in theory it is very difficult to implement. For example it is very hard to be bearish when the whole world is bullish, this I know from experience, and conversely it is even harder to be bullish when the whole world is bearish. It is at the extremes where the most money is to be made and where discipline is most needed.
The problem with implementing Marks’ ideas is that it is difficult to know how long a cycle will go on. Marks’ cites Greenspan’s famous “irrational exuberance speech of late 1996, only to witness the late 90s bull market to roar on for another three years. Although Marks was brilliant in backing up the truck in the credit markets at the height of the Lehman crisis in 2008, even he admits it was a close run thing and his success was dependent upon the efforts of Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner in stemming its worst effects.
Putting Marks’ ideas to use today I find that the current economic upswing is much closer to the end than the beginning, profit growth is certainly peaking, the credit market is wide open to most borrowers on very favorable terms and aside from the past few days in early October most investors remain bullish after a ten year bull market that quadrupled the major stock market indices, and investors seem oblivious to global macro and political risks. Thus the way I read Marks it is at least time to be cautious and consequently a time to de-risk portfolios.
Making one last point, I wish Marks cited the late Hyman Minsky who noted that stability leads to instability and although he didn’t directly state the converse, instability leads to stability. That would be Marks in a nutshell. Although too long and too repetitive “Mastering the Market Cycle” is worth the read. There is much wisdom here.
Top reviews from other countries
One of the most important things needed to achieve investment success is to clearly define your investment philosophy and diligently act upon that philosophy. Writings by Marks and a select few other investment masterminds serve not only for learning but more importantly as a practical grounding tool to help you stay the course. His books and memos should be reread periodically especially at the later stages of a cycle. His coherent writing and logic provide a sounding board while you are in the markets.
His encouragement to set aside emotions, diligently ‘take the temperature’ of the market, and act upon it, is what can set you apart as a successful investor.
Despite being one of the most accomplished investors of our age, Marks has risen above the ranks by following seemingly simple rules, detailed in this book with his usual proficiency, unique insight and, eminently, in plain English.
Coming in late 2018, Mastering the Market Cycle addresses some of the most topical questions for investors, providing not just insightful thoughts that relate to our current times, but a conclusive framework that could have been valid at any point in history, empowering readers with the tools they need to find the right balance between risk and opportunity and between prudence and aggressiveness. This book is simply a must-read for all investment professionals, short-time traders or long-term savers alike. And one of the few books to be always held at hand for all of us who are inevitably presented with great abundance of investment decisions throughout our lives.
I’m already looking forward to his next book.
Marks' writing style is very good but lacks content to keep the reader curious and engaged.
It's a good intro for beginners but nowhere near enriching. No details, very little technicals and super general statements about everything and anything.
Would recommend to a first year undergrad.
The only downside is that it does all get a bit repetitive after a bit. Of course, repeating key points can help you remember them but there is a limit and, in my opinion, Mr Marks crosses it. It could have been two thirds as long and twice as good.
That said, the book is bound to make you re-evaluate your investment portfolio and ask yourself whether you’re thinking for yourself or following the herd. We all love to imagine ourselves to be independent-minded and maybe a little bit contrarian but truth is, with a few rare exceptions, almost everyone is guilty of joining in with all the other bulls and bears.
Maybe this book will make us all reflect before joining the stampede. Certainly, nobody could accuse Mr Marks of not doing his level best to make us think.