The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

( 36 )

Overview

"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, ...

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The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

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Overview

"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.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
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

Money Magazine

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.

FocusInvestor.com

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.

Seeking Alpha
The book is written in a way that both seasoned investors and novices should appreciate.

— Brenda Jubin

New York Journal of Books
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

Barron's
...many valuable insights into the psychological roots of investors' habitual errors.

— Martin Fridson

The Motley Fool
All investors should read it.

— Alex Dumortier

Syracuse Post-Standard

"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.

Wall Street Journal - Peter Lattman

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.

Seth A. Klarman

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.

Warren Buffett

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.

John C. Bogle

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!

Jeremy Grantham

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.

Joel Greenblatt

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.

Seeking Alpha - Brenda Jubin

The book is written in a way that both seasoned investors and novices should appreciate.

New York Journal of Books - Stephen E. Roulac

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.

Barron's - Martin Fridson

...many valuable insights into the psychological roots of investors' habitual errors.

The Motley Fool - Alex Dumortier

All investors should read it.

Kirkus Reviews

The chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management explains investing.

The world of market investing is often complex and uncertain, but Marks presents his knowledge and experience in an understandable style. The author's debutoriginated from a series of "investment philosophy" memos he wrote for clients over the past 20 years.Marks' advice is meaty and useful, and covers a number of dense economic concepts, such as market efficiency versus inefficiency, understanding and controlling market risk and defensive investing. His thorough reckoning of the material leads to savvy, in-depth economic advice. Investors are encouraged to employ second-level thinking, Marks writes, because the "buy low, sell high" philosophy is just a simple, first-level thought—determining a stock's intrinsic value delves deeper and often results in better return. Interestingly, Marks wrote a memo 10 years ago that described the 2008 financial crisis. While the author is aware investing has very few certainties, his two core principles hold firm—the market is cyclical, and the greatest opportunities arise when others forget the cyclical nature of the market. Readers should not miss "The Poor Man's Guide To Market Assessment,"an exercise Marks recommends as a gauge. Also includes charts and graphs to help investors avoid the many potential hazards along the way.

A clear and expert resource for all investors.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231153683
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2011
  • Series: Columbia Business School Publishing Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 87,305
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

IntroductionThe Most Important Thing Is... 1. Second-Level Thinking2. Understanding Market Efficiency (and Its Limitations)3. Value4. The Relationship Between Price and Value5. Understanding Risk6. Recognizing Risk 7. Controlling Risk8. Being Attentive to Cycles 9. Awareness of the Pendulum 10. Combating Negative Influences 11. Contrarianism12. Finding Bargains13. Patient Opportunism 14. Knowing What You Don't Know15. Having a Sense for Where We Stand16. Appreciating the Role of Luck17. Investing Defensively18. Avoiding Pitfalls19. Adding Value20. Pulling It All Together

Columbia University Press

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 36 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 24, 2011

    A Remarkable Contribution to Value Investing Thought

    As the publisher of THE MOST IMPORTANT THING by Howard Marks I cannot claim to be objective but as someone who loves the generosity of spirit displayed by value investors who move their field forward I recommend this book without reservation. Howard's clarity of thought, his ability to write and his lifetime of learning are very much in evidence.

    While it's difficult to determine, I truly believe this is a value investing classic that will be read and re-read for years to come. It is an honor to be associated with such quality. If you are looking for stock picks,simplistic thinking or easy answers there are countless books for you to pick up. If you seek second-level thinking, mental models and authenticity this book is for you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Howard Marks of Oaktree is one of the most intelligent men on Ea

    Howard Marks of Oaktree is one of the most intelligent men on Earth, this book is a must buy for anyone interested in investing, economics, business administration. Very well written, learned a ton of useful information by reading this book that I can apply to my life in business and/or personal life. Howard Marks was recently covered on the cover of Barrons magazine, touting his life, new book. This book is awesome. Highly recommended. Warren Buffett said Howard Marks material is the first thing he looks for when reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    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 forward in today¿s financial markets. The book, a compilation of Marks¿s investor newsletters, contains exceptional chapters on risk management, contrarian thinking and market psychology, as well as a cogent analysis of value investing. While it is somewhat repetitive, getAbstract recommends it to all serious investors who are interested in getting back to the ¿fundamentals¿ of investing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    A Common Sense Guide to Active Investing

    In my opinion, this book is a must-read for any truly active investor. The author reinforced for me the proper contrarian mindset and discipline you must have to invest successfully.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    A masterpiece, very good business content.

    A masterpiece, very good business content.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

    Incredibly well written book on the topic of investing, wall str

    Incredibly well written book on the topic of investing, wall street, finance, economics. A must read
    for anyone interested in an increible book on investing, becoming a better investor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2011

    Not better than Graham in thinking but the closest you will get

    An investment philosophy can be put together using this book alone. Is the modern day Ben Graham thinker in investing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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