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The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor: Uncommon Sense for Thoughtful Investors (Columbia Business School Publishing) [Hardcover]

Howard Marks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 May 2011 Columbia Business School Publishing
"This is that rarity, a useful book."--Warren Buffett Howard Marks, the chairman and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, is renowned for his insightful assessments of market opportunity and risk. After four decades spent ascending to the top of the investment management profession, he is today sought out by the world's leading value investors, and his client memos brim with insightful commentary and a time-tested, fundamental philosophy. Now for the first time, all readers can benefit from Marks's wisdom, concentrated into a single volume that speaks to both the amateur and seasoned investor. Informed by a lifetime of experience and study, The Most Important Thing explains the keys to successful investment and the pitfalls that can destroy capital or ruin a career. Utilizing passages from his memos to illustrate his ideas, Marks teaches by example, detailing the development of an investment philosophy that fully acknowledges the complexities of investing and the perils of the financial world. Brilliantly applying insight to today's volatile markets, Marks offers a volume that is part memoir, part creed, with a number of broad takeaways. Marks expounds on such concepts as "second-level thinking," the price/value relationship, patient opportunism, and defensive investing. Frankly and honestly assessing his own decisions--and occasional missteps--he provides valuable lessons for critical thinking, risk assessment, and investment strategy. Encouraging investors to be "contrarian," Marks wisely judges market cycles and achieves returns through aggressive yet measured action. Which element is the most essential? Successful investing requires thoughtful attention to many separate aspects, and each of Marks's subjects proves to be the most important thing.

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The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor: Uncommon Sense for Thoughtful Investors (Columbia Business School Publishing) + Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing - A Book of Practical Counsel + Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings (Wiley Investment Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; First Printing edition (17 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231153686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231153683
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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 one--but 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 5/1/11 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 5/1/11 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. 4/20/11 The book is written in a way that both seasoned investors and novices should appreciate. -- Brenda Jubin Seeking Alpha 5/2/2011 If Benjamin Graham's and David Dodd's Securities Analysis was the essential, must have investment book of the end of the 20th century, then Howard Marks's The Most Important Thing is a serious contender for parallel status in the 21st century. -- Stephen E. Roulac New York Journal of Books 5/1/2011 ...many valuable insights into the psychological roots of investors' habitual errors. -- Martin Fridson Barron's 10/3/11 All investors should read it. -- Alex Dumortier The Motley Fool 7/12/11 "The Most Important Thing"... offers readers an overview of how to think when considering an investment opportunity, which is quite valuable indeed, considering studies have shown most people tend to make impulsive, indiscriminate investment decisions. Syracuse Post-Standard 8/6/12

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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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic 7 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must admit that I am a sucker for anything that Warren Buffet endorses. I have read numerous books over the years on investing and this is one of the best. It reminds me of when I read the intelligent investor for the first time by expanding my investment horizon. This is the type of book that I will read, like the intelligent investor, at least once a year to make sure I don't forget any of the valuable lessons between its pages. Buyer beware, this book is not going to show you exactly how to value companies but instead will give you a sound investing philosophy to follow. Buy this book you will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Investment Philosophy and Strategies. 29 Nov 2011
Howard Marks shares his twenty most important things to know about successful investing. He explains such concepts as "second level thinking", value, understanding and controlling risk, and defensive investing. It's not a step-by-step guide to investing, but instead sets out what Marks sees as the ground rules of investing.
The insight and advice he provides help develop critical thinking, risk assessment, and investment strategy. There is plenty of use to newcomers and more seasoned investors. His advice comes recommended by legendary investor, Warren Buffett.

The book brings together advice built up over four decades of investing, which have seen Marks learn from the booms and busts of the 1970's through to today. He's invested during the stagflation of the 1970's, the booms of the 80's and 90's, as well as Black Monday, the dot com boom and bust, and the global financial crisis of 2007-8. He shares his unique learning and experiences as an investment manager with us.

Howard Marks is the chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a Los-Angeles based investment firm with $80 billion invested for their clients. Marks is renowned for his insightful assessment of market opportunity and risk, which he shares with us in this book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read 30 July 2011
By Cachaza
Format:Kindle Edition
One of the best investing books I have read so far. It takes time and failure to realise that having a clear investing philosophy is crucial for success. It's really hard to get into the buy low and sell high philosophy, it makes so much sense but with all that noise around you (e.g. trend riding, etc) most people end up losing money and opening opportunities for people that do exactly that: buy low and sell high. Howard Marks is a great author with wise advise, listen to him...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mark
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't often write positive reviews (being a value investor with a negative disposition :)) However this book has prompted me to do so. You need to know I read incessantly and have been investing for 15 years so I was not looking at this as a beginner looking for an investing guide. This book is definitely not an investment guide book. I have also read this author's memos to his clients at Oaktree Capital on which much of the wisdom in this book is based. This author is well worth listening to. He will show you how to think differently than the rest of the market (The only way you will make money). He explains the market in a way you may not (and I hadn't) thought of it before. In my view this book should be required reading alongside "Security Analysis", "The Intelligent Investor" and anything by Bruce Greenwald on investing. It is an inspired book and has completely changed my outlook on the markets and on investing. I am not exaggerating when I say this book has changed my thinking. Well worth reading, but not your first investment book. Read "The Intelligent Investor" first and then this and then "Security Analysis" and then read Bruce Greenwald's work and then Warren Buffet's letters to shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I think of this book as a useful aide in staying focussed on getting through a possible worst case scenario so as to be able to buy risk assets when there is massive pessimism & the tabloids are pronouncing the end of capitalism & have financial news on the front pages.

As other reviewers point out, it is all about flipping the mind set to buy low(er) & then either activate a buy & hold & rebalance strategy or just sell (all or part) higher.

This requires that scary combination of missing out by being invested too early in government bonds/cash/money market & then being prepared to come in on 25%+ (or some other arbitrary trigger) falls in equities trusting in eventual mean reversion.

The author just takes you through how he arrived at thinking like this, there aren't any tips or action plan, it's a genuinely thoughtful call to 'stand back, be fearful when everyone else is greedy, be greedy when everyone's fearful, the big money is made by investing when there is blood on the streets, sometimes you're going to be years stuck in cash/money market/bonds & when you do come in you'll near certainly be too early, so get the mindset right'.

It is not really new or groundbreaking, it's in the long line from Loeb through to Buffett who like to stay out in manias & come in when the probabilities are in their favour. But I'd recommend it from an investment psychology/perspective, particularly for those who, perhaps alongside a 'drip feed into equities' strategy or a 60:40 or 50:50 risk:non risk rebalancing portfolio strategy, want to play a contrarian or value game with a portion of their capital. It is also a good antidote to the momentum or trend following strategies that seem to be in vogue right now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great investment book written by a legendary investment manager.
Published 11 days ago by Marcel Maier
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile read; astute insights
Definitely a worthwhile read with many insights and useful observations. Easy to read and very clear. Something here for professional and amateur investors alike. Read more
Published 6 months ago by TOVH
4.0 out of 5 stars lots of insights in a concise form
For me, does the job in convincing and educating about the benefits of a defensive and Buffet like investing style.
Published 7 months ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written investment advice
This well written book is both simple and profound. Its helped me think about my investment approach. Read more
Published 8 months ago by S. B. Upstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Well worth the time reading. Provides useful perspectives as well as specific ideas. Surely one of the most highly recommended books on the subject of investment.
Published 16 months ago by DL
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
This book was so good I read it twice. Skillfully written and concise, this book does not waste words in getting across a lifetime of investing experience. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Important Thing
Lifetime value investor Howard Marks has distilled his approach and experience into a concise, focused text that offers seasoned investment wisdom to those looking for a way... Read more
Published on 12 Dec 2011 by Rolf Dobelli
5.0 out of 5 stars soon to be considered a classic...
wow! an investment book that doesn't rely on the use of charts... this book will teach you how to become a defensive investor so that you can minimise losses and be in the game... Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by Gcrikey
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Piece!
Thanks Howard. First time I have written a review. Really enjoyed reading the book. It really makes you think much deeper. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by J. Rai
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