The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

Overview

Howard Marks's The Most Important Thing distilled the investing insight of his celebrated client memos into a single volume and, for the first time, made his time-tested philosophy available to general readers. In this edition, Marks's wisdom is joined by the comments, insights, and counterpoints of four renowned investors and investment educators: Christopher C. Davis (Davis Funds), Joel Greenblatt (Gotham Capital), Paul Johnson (Nicusa Capital), and Seth A. Klarman (Baupost ...

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The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

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Overview

Howard Marks's The Most Important Thing distilled the investing insight of his celebrated client memos into a single volume and, for the first time, made his time-tested philosophy available to general readers. In this edition, Marks's wisdom is joined by the comments, insights, and counterpoints of four renowned investors and investment educators: Christopher C. Davis (Davis Funds), Joel Greenblatt (Gotham Capital), Paul Johnson (Nicusa Capital), and Seth A. Klarman (Baupost Group).

These experts lend insight into such concepts as "second-level thinking," the price/value relationship, patient opportunism, and defensive investing. Marks also adds his own annotations, expanding on his book's original themes and issues. A new chapter addresses the importance of reasonable expectations, and a foreword by Bruce C. Greenwald, called "a guru to Wall Street's gurus" by the New York Times, speaks on value investing, productivity, and the economics of information.

***

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.

"This is that rarity, a useful book."--Warren Buffett

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

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.

— Praise for The Most Important Thing

My Money Blog

The original is great, but if you're willing to spend a bit more money (eBook is $9.99), this new version does have a little more meat to it.

Aleph Blog/Money Science
I recommend this book to all who aspire after value investing.
FocusInvestor.com

This new edition does the nearly impossible; it takes an already classic text and makes it an even more indispensable tool for investors!

Seeking Alpha

Ultimately The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor is an outstanding read. I'll be referring back to it often. I'd say it's a must-have for every value investor.

Praise for The Most Important Thing

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.

Aleph Blog / Money Science

I recommend this book to all who aspire after value investing.

Midwest Book Review

Enlightening and well detailed.

Forbes.com Moneybuilder - Charles Sizemore

This is a book I recommend you keep on your desk

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231162845
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/14/2014
  • Series: Columbia Business School Publishing Series
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 105,870
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.08 (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 seventy-five billion dollars 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. He is the author of The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor.

Bruce C. Greenwald holds the Robert Heilbrunn Professorship of Finance and Asset Management at Columbia Business School and is the academic director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing. He is the coauthor of The Curse of the Mogul: What's Wrong with the World's Leading Media Companies.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword Bruce C. Greenwald ix

Introduction xi

The Most Important Thing is…

1 Second-Level Thinking 1

2 Understanding Market Efficiency (and Its Limitations) 8

3 Value 19

4 The Relationship Between Price and Value 29

5 Understanding Risk 39

6 Recognizing Risk 57

7 Controlling Risk 71

8 Being Attentive to Cycles 81

9 Awareness of the Pendulum 89

10 Combating Negative Influences 97

11 Contrarianism 111

12 Finding Bargains 122

13 Patient Opportunism 131

14 Knowing What You Don't Know 142

15 Having a Sense for Where We Stand 151

16 Appreciating the Role of Luck 161

17 Investing Defensively 171

18 Avoiding Pitfalls 185

19 Adding Value 201

20 Reasonable Expectations 209

21 Pulling It All Together 215

About the Contributors 225

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