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The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor (Columbia Business School Publishing) Hardcover – Illustrated, May 1, 2011
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Regular recipients of Howard Marks's investment memos eagerly await their arrival for the essential truths and unique insights they contain. Now the wisdom and experience of this great investor are available to all. The Most Important Thing, Marks's insightful investment philosophy and time-tested approach, is a must read for every investor. -- Seth A. Klarman, president, The Baupost Group
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
Few books on investing match the high standards set by Howard Marks in The Most Important Thing. It is wise, witty, and laced with historical perspective. If you seek to avoid the pitfalls of investing, you must read this book! -- John C. Bogle, Founder and former CEO, The Vanguard Group
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 onebut don't count on it. -- Jeremy Grantham, cofounder and chief investment strategist, Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo
The Most Important Thing is destined to become an investment classic-it should easily earn its place on every thinking investor's bookshelf. Howard Marks has distilled years of investment wisdom into a short book that is lucid, entertaining, and ultimately profound. -- Joel Greenblatt, Columbia Business School, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital
A clear and expert resource for all investors. ― 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. ― Money Magazine
There is, quite simply, an incredible amount of wisdom between the covers of his book and an investor is doing them a disservice if they don't read, and re-read, this book. ― FocusInvestor.com
The book is written in a way that both seasoned investors and novices should appreciate. -- Brenda Jubin ― Seeking Alpha
About the Author
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Hardcover : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0231153686
- ISBN-13 : 978-0231153683
- Dimensions : 6.34 x 0.83 x 9.24 inches
- Publisher : Columbia Business School Publishing; Illustrated edition (May 1, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #40,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Did I mention this book is repetitive? Oh yeah it is. See what I did there?
Although Marks shares his high level investment philosofy, he never shares enough to allow someone to understand exactly how he implements it in practice. How much safety margin? Which level of diversification? How to attribute probabilities to extreme events? Some nitty-gritty and real life examples would have transformed this book from a gospel to a more vivid and practical read.
This could be accomplished while simultaneosly reducing the lenght of the book. It often feels verbose, with the same ideas repeated in different sections and paraphrased in multiple similar ways. Additionally, his habit of citing his own past writings is unnecessary and baloons the reading time without delivering much value to the reader.
My only knock is that (as other reviews also mention) because the book is a compendium of quotes from Marks's excellent Oaktree Memos, it can at times read as somewhat disjointed or repetitive. Still well worth the read!
Howard Mark's words will surely put to rest that `old dogs' can not learn something new, or at least think of it in a different way. Though investing for more than 20+ years, I have marked and `dog eared' many pages as insightful, and something to think more about.
I believe the chapters on Second Level Thinking, and Risks, are indeed discriminating to make the reader say, I never thought of it that way. In addition, the writings on defensive investing in the (losers game) of unforced errors are timeless.
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Top reviews from other countries
The book addresses topics like market psychology (go against the crowd at extreme ends of investor psychology), the asymmetrical relationship between gains vs losses (you need a 100% gain to recover from a 50% loss), estimates, economical cycles, behaviour, risk management. And the differences between loser's game and winner's game, or the difference between offense and defence.
The book is more a collection of market comments and thoughts from his frequent letters and a memoir of his career. Each chapter is fairly brief and informative, although my thoughts drifted away with a certain frequency in the first half of the book. All in all it is a decent recap but not overly revealing. If you fail to realise you need to take risk, be contrarian and that you need come up with unique ideas to generate excess performance as an investor you would have been ramping up losses or been out of business soon.
As an style-agnostic active equity fund manager of a fairly sizeable pool of AuM I didn’t always agree with the author’s arguments as a value investor. But it was helpful to see some basic principles phrased. And I developed more sympathy towards the end of the book, but more so because it's there that the author alludes more to core principles that I and my team have stuck to for the past few decades. But there wasn't anything new or that we haven't brought in practice. As such it's more an instruction for new or retail investors about how successful asset mangers think, act and operate. But then you wonder what they would do with the concept of ‘alpha’ or where they would get their unique insight or ‘second level of understanding’ to make proper investment decisions.. Also all these concepts are helpful and meaningful but don't expect to learn 'how' to invest i.e. there is nothing about the what the author calls the 'micro approach' the selection and actual analysis of assets and investments, while he repeatedly tresses that such fundamental research and analysis is key to successful investment returns.
1. Efficient Market Hypothesis is not completely accurate in certain situations
2. This is because as humans we deal not only with information but also with emotions / psychology
3. Therefore, we need to focus on those assets where there might be divergence from the Efficient Market Hypothesis
4. For that we need a Second-Level thinking, not necessarily contrarian but different from the lot
5. Price is different from Value. Price is a function of fundamentals and market psychology. While Value is mainly a function of fundamentals.
6. The relationship between Risk and Return is not completely linear. Higher Risk entails an element of higher losses too which we tend to ignore assuming a linear relation.
7. A good portfolio considers Risk holistically and balances / hedges it appropriately.
8. Fundamentally, markets operate in cycles. People can benefit from them if they are more attuned.
9. Understand the psychological pitfalls and your own limitations around investing.
10. Appreciate the role of luck which stops you from becoming overconfident.
No wonder, Warren Buffet likes it. Having observed the market, I could relate to many of the ideas mentioned here. This book provides good guidance for anybody who wants to get into investing.