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Reading Minds and Markets: Minimizing Risk and Maximizing Returns in a Volatile Global Marketplace Hardcover – June 29, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Wall Street Journal Bestseller - Hardcover Business

From the Back Cover

"Read Jack Ablin's 'five factor' approach to investing and you not only will sleep better at night, you'll be a smarter, wiser human being. Ablin takes you on his twenty-year journey toward a unified, rational approach to investing that can help you weather even the most turbulent financial storms. This book may be one of the best investments you will ever make."--John Callaway, Senior Correspondent, WTTW, Public Television "This book is based on verifiable data trends and years of experience with a broad array of economic and market numbers. Regret over investment losses need not lead investors to disengage their brains or to be robbed again by schemes hawked as 'new and improved.' "Reading Minds and Markets" will help jump-start an honest investment dialogue that has been sidetracked by excesses of greed and fear."--Bill Barnhart, Former Financial Editor and Columnist for the Chicago Tribune "The author has taken the complex world of investing and provided an extremely practical approach to success where others have failed miserably. His grasp of the financial markets makes him eminently qualified to develop an extremely sound and practical approach in order to protect and enhance wealth for investors."--Edward ("Ned") Riley, Jr., Former Chief Investment Officer for State Street Global Advisors and Chief Investment Officer, Riley Asset Management "With nearly three decades of experience, Jack Ablin's superb intellectual thinking is reflected in "Reading Minds and Markets." This is great reading for the motivated investor."--Professor Israel Shaked, Finance and Economics Department, Boston University, School of Management You" can "do more to protect yourself from market risks and down markets. The secret: Understand the big picture and know when to shift money toward more promising industry groups, sectors, or asset classes. This strategy is called "global macro investing"--and, as Chief Investment Officer for Harris Private Bank, Jack Ablin has used it to deliver results for many of the world's wealthiest families and individuals. In "Reading Minds and Markets, " Ablin distills his techniques into a remarkably simple, commonsense five-step plan that "any" investor can use. You'll discover how to anticipate some of the more significant shifts in global markets and move investments toward areas that are more likely to grow. Equally important, you'll learn how to overcome bad habits that inevitably lead to failure--habits all too often reinforced by the financial media. In today's unforgiving markets, you need to make smarter high-level decisions "and" fewer mistakes: This book will help you do both.
  • Why you "must" take a top-down view of the market--and how to do it
    "Avoid getting caught off-guard in choppy, highly volatile markets"
  • Respond to the market's powerful signals about relative risk
    "Master strategies for improving return without increasing risk"
  • Discover the five factors that consistently tell you where to invest
    "Cut through the clutter of irrelevant data: find what matters and use it"
  • Stop being your own worst enemy
    "Overcome the #1 obstacle to structuring your best portfolio: human nature "
www.readingmindsandmarkets.com
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (June 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132354977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132354974
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before you go any further, ask yourself two key questions. First, how much time are you willing to devote to managing an investment portfolio? Second, how much money are you capable of managing yourself?

These two questions are important because Jack Ablin's "global macro" strategy is not for beginning investors nor is it for people who are not able to make running their portfolio one of their core activities. Implementing Ablin's strategy will require a substantial amount of planning and setup activity and, depending on how complex your models become, probably a significant time commitment once things are up and running.

In addition, you must be able to commit enough capital to the strategy to make all the work worthwhile. The global macro strategy would be an insane amount of effort for portfolios that are smaller than the minimum initial investment (typically somewhere between $250k and $500k) for a customized account run by a professional manager.

OK--if all that didn't make you too discouraged--let's say you're game to check out the strategy. You'll find Reading Minds and Markets to be a good primer on how many big money managers, such as private bankers and high-net worth advisors, make asset allocation decisions. Ablin describes, in fairly broad terms, the five macro factors he uses to select asset classes, countries, and economic sectors. There is some useful discussion about edge and why it's important to invest globally, but the main focus is on explaining the key data that drive his strategy and tactics. It is left to readers to move themselves beyond these first theoretical building blocks and actually build a robust and useful model. Ablin doesn't provide much guidance on choosing benchmarks, portfolio diversification, or risk management either.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a good read. Sometimes when I pick up books by veterans of Wall Street they can become so mired in "Streetspeak" that the thing ends up reading like a textbook. That was not the case here. Ablin's book reads more like an interesting newspaper or novel. If you are intelligent and comfortable with the markets but you do not work on Wall Street, this book is going to work for you.

Ablin accurately identifies the major misconception among small investors that the way to invest is by stock picking. He spends a good deal of time showing the futility of the exercise for any little guy because he is up against highly sophisticated investors in NY and elsewhere. Instead he teaches why focusing on the big picture is best and how that is the path best taken by prudent do-it-yourself investors. One of the things I really liked was the author's intense effort to remind the reader that this is not a get rich quick book. He lays out how his strategy of identifying what he calls "metrics" is for finding long term trends for various asset classes in an attempt to ride multi-year type moves. If you want to know if you should buy IBM or McDonald's you have the wrong book but if you want to decide between the US market and foreign markets this is the guy. I think both weekend warriors and the pros would be well served to crack open this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The best thing I can say about this book is that it is a quick read. It is tough to write a good investment book nowadays; the average retail investor is fairly well-informed. But this book adds nothing to an introduction to investing, and as an introduction it is a half baked mix of ancient cliches. They either (i) dialed it in, or (ii) they do invest this way, in which case, this is *exactly* why you shouldn't let some professionals manage your money (specifically, when they bring almost no discernible originality or insight to the table): they don't mean you harm, they haven't had an original idea in a long long time.

Specific deficiences include:

* He promises a new world of "global macro" then spends exactly two pages on international markets. There is no insight here into global or macro. (you'll want to admire the shiny globe on the cover because that's the last global thing you'll find here)
* The asset allocation offered is absolutely ancient: decision 1 is "stocks or bonds," decision 2 is "which kind of stocks (foreign is listed but no insights), decision 3 is which sector or style (style + sector), decision 4 is which funds. That's fine, but brings nothing new to this framework and nothing on alternatives (commodities) or options or ETF (okay a half page, not helpful). In other words, the asset allocation strategy here is both ancient and not really actionable. I dare you to actually construct a portfolio with this recipe.
* Here is the worst problem, in all seriousness: because this is offered as advice and because the advice is absolutely routine, this is a recipe for following the crowd. I wouldn't mind that if it were fundamental, value-based strategy that truly does minimize risk but the metrics include P/E.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On a high level, this book started out good but ended up to be average. The good points about the book is that there is a lot of information from the author's experience regarding market history over the past few decades. There is a lot of data and examples that could be interesting to the novice reader. However, for someone in the field or for an experienced investor, this book may be a little disappointing. Below is a more detailed discussion of what I think about this book.

In the beginning of the book, the author attacks the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH). This was to be expected from a professional money manager, because even the weak form of the EMH states that you cannot make money off technical or fundamental analysis. There have been tons of empirical evidence showing support that US markets are at least weak form efficient, and plenty of research supporting that US markets are semi-strong form efficient (i.e., prices incorporate all publicly-available information). In addition, the author selectively cites evidence (including a quote from Warren Buffett) to show that EMH does not hold in practice and, like many anomalies that have been reported, selectively chooses certain events that would be contrary to market efficiency. However, as previously mentioned, the book does not discuss the magnitude of evidence that shows the US stock market is efficient.

The author once again name drops Warren Buffet and how Buffet describes the existence of "pockets of inefficiency" that canny investors can take advantage of. However, the author fails to realize that this argument IS consistent with market efficiency.
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