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The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor (Columbia Business School Publishing) Hardcover – February 5, 2013
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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. (Praise for The Most Important Thing, Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)
If you take an exceptional talent and have them obsess about value investing for several decades―including deep thinking about its very essence with written analysis along the way― you may come up with a book as useful to value investors as this one. But don't count on it. (Praise for The Most Important Thing, Jeremy Grantham, Cofounder and Chief Investment Strategist, Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo)
A clear and expert resource for all investors. (Praise for The Most Important Thing Kirkus Reviews)
Veteran value-investing manager Howard Marks draws on pithy memos he wrote to clients over the years to dispense insightful advice on everything from risk taking to the role of luck. (Praise for The Most Important Thing Money Magazine)
The original is great, but if you're willing to spend a bit more money (eBook is $9.99), this new version does have a little more meat to it. (My Money Blog)
I recommend this book to all who aspire after value investing. (Aleph Blog / Money Science)
This new edition does the nearly impossible; it takes an already classic text and makes it an even more indispensable tool for investors! (FocusInvestor.com)
Ultimately The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor is an outstanding read. I'll be referring back to it often. I'd say it's a must-have for every value investor. (Seeking Alpha)
Enlightening and well detailed. (Midwest Book Review)
This is a book I recommend you keep on your desk (Charles Sizemore Forbes.com Moneybuilder)
About the Author
Howard Marks is chairman and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based investment firm with seventy-five billion dollars under management. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance from the Wharton School and an MBA in accounting and marketing from the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor.
Bruce C. Greenwald holds the Robert Heilbrunn Professorship of Finance and Asset Management at Columbia Business School and is the academic director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing. He is the coauthor of The Curse of the Mogul: What's Wrong with the World's Leading Media Companies.
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Howard Marks, Chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, writes clearly and persuasively about the importance of risk avoidance when investing in stocks. He emphatically states his belief that risk avoidance by buying at a good value is the key to success. He then spends the rest of the book telling the reader the 18 most important things to consider when buying stocks. His discussion of investor psychology is worth the price of the book by itself. Everything else is a bonus.
I had been meaning to read this book for a year or so. When I learned that an annotated edition, with comments from some leading value investors, I grabbed it. I took my time reading it, as there is so much great information within. The final chapter, in which Marks pulls all 18 important things together, is now something I intend to re-read several times a year, like I do with Chapters 8 and 20 of Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor.
The book reaffirms my belief: Not because technology has made it easy for average people to trade financial securities on exchanges like NASDAQ and NYSE does not mean that they have the required skills to perform securities valuation. Average people who trade regularly on securities exchanges are like the weekend golfers playing the Blue or Black T-Boxes on a standard PGA course. This is why 401(k) is bad for the average worker.
I especially enjoyed his discussion of risk. Marks seems to have a good sense of where the "pendulum" of risk is, as has managed to avoid some of the major crashes (or taken a reduced hit). This book explains his approach and well as his insightful notion of "second level" thinking.
Easy to read. Should be helpful to all investors.
His book implies that an investor can do well by paying attention to public sentiment. The problem with this is these sentiment last for 25% of any move in either direction. Another problem with this concepts is they promote public sentiment to extend moves to maximize their profits. Since this is so scary for us first level thinkers, we need to pay him to manage our money for us.
In this book he says in passing, he uses technical analysis information. In the second book he ridicules people who use technical analysis. I’m not sure how this works out.
He also implies; these books are used at the Columbia Business Schools. There is no way lesson plans can be developed from this book, unless you just make one and repeatedly use that plan. It must be required reading to expand his sales.
I force myself to read every book I purchase. There is almost always a nice little nugget in there somewhere. Here, I’ve been unable to find any nuggets. Just mind numbing repetition. Unless you want to accept his premise that cats chase carrots up trees. Not birds, Carrots. Well maybe it’s just beyond this first level thinker to see the cleverness of this analogy.
Conclusion: Traders and investors, there is nothing useful here for you.