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The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor (Columbia Business School Publishing) Hardcover – May 1, 2011
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Everyone knows about the anticipation leading up to Warren Buffett's annual shareholder letters. But for a certain Wall Street set, there are equally high expectations for the writings of Howard Marks. (Peter Lattman Wall Street Journal)
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
Howard Marks is chairman and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based investment firm with $80 billion 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.
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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.
Did I mention this book is repetitive? Oh yeah it is. See what I did there?
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.
Security Analysis: Sixth Edition, Foreword by Warren Buffett by Graham & Dodd
The Aggressive Conservative Investor (Wiley Investment Classics) by Martin J. Whitman and Martin Shubik
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings (Wiley Investment Classics) by Philip A. Fisher
I took away a star because it is essentially a "greatest hits album" of his investment memos without a ton of new material, but since I had originally rated it six stars, it still gets a perfect score.