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The Most Important Thing Illuminated

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  921 ratings  ·  60 reviews
In May of 2011, Columbia Business School Publishing released Howard Marks' "The Most Important Thing," a book that distilled the wisdom of Marks' celebrated client memos into a single volume, making his time-tested investing philosophy available to general readers for the first time. The book was greeted with wide acclaim from investors--professional, casual, aspiring, and ...more
Unknown Binding, 216 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Columbia Business School Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Marcelo
Although not a totally useless book, it’s a disappointing read. Disappointing due to my high expectations given Howard Marks' track record and his very interesting memos to Oaktree clients. To be honest, depending on your case, this can be a 2-star or a 5-star book - I’m rating it a “3” to try to be fair on the whole universe of people reading this.

If you're a beginner in the investing camp and still doesn't have much knowledge on the subject, this is a 5-star primer on how a good experienced in
...more
Josh
I've read a good number of investment books and this is definitely among the best. I would highly recommend it for someone who is just starting to learn about investing. Between this, Ben Graham's The Intelligent Investor (or Security Analysis for the serious) and Philip Fischer's Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits you would have a great foundation to build on.
Brentley Campbell
Absolutely Fantastic. It was a little repetitive but that is necessary to drive home the right points. Marks' idea of investor skill and that it all comes down to how well people do during the bad times is solid. He really explains why one must look for Value and to find a Margin of safety
Eapen Chacko
In the style of the value investors, Howard Marks provides a valuable perspective on markets, psychology, valuation, and market cycles. Every investor can get something of value out of reading this collection. This book is a compendium of letters Marks wrote to his investors, in the style of Warren Buffett, Ralph Wanger, John Bogle, and other distinguished practitioners of Ben Graham's style. Some of the letters seem dated in the context of the runup to 2006 and the aftermath.

The book would have
...more
Khaleel
Manages to capture the essence of value investing quite well and contains some good ideas about risk. For beginners it's a good book to understand value investing and for existing investors it's a good cognitive recap of key ideas. Overall the 225 pages or so have sufficient depth and contains a lot of good ideas. This is not a "how to" book but more of a how to think book and it does this quite well.

I've taken off a star, due to it being somewhat repetitive (unnecessarily so) especially around
...more
Bri-anna
I never read books that are non-fiction and explain things to you (unless it is for school), but I found this book charmed me in a way that is hard to express.

This book explains to you thoughtful ways to invest, and how not to make mistakes when investing. While I found most of them to be quite obvious, when you put them all together it makes a lot of sense. It is very useful to use when you need help with money, and has made me think over my investments and where I spend my money during my sch
...more
Chris Nicola
A good book on investing. This book is written kind of like Joel on Software (not a good comparison) in that it summarizes years of newsletters from Howard Marks' to his clients. While I feel some of the advice is a bit obvious and even repetitive, it does lay out, in a somewhat meditative way, the foundations of value investing.

Anyone looking to familiarize themselves the principles of slow-and-steady investing and get a perspective outside the currently valued wisdom of "buy and hold the Ameri
...more
Arash Khamsezad
This was my 4th time reading an investment book and I have got to say that this book was simply amazing. Thee book was simple yet very detailed with a lot of examples and one of the best books I have read in a long time. The book was so interesting that I finished it in a matter of very a few days.
Truely and awesome, simple and yet informative book.
Nefficus
There is a ton of investing wisdom in this book - unfortunately, most of it is already ground that is well-tread by other investing books, especially if one has read anything about Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, or other well-known value investing.

While I found much of the information redundant to other value investing books, there are still valuable nuggets, such as Marks' commentary about risk management...often investors talk a lot about having a margin of safety and looking for the worst c
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Steve Bradshaw
A disappointing read given Howard Marks' reputation and thoughtful investing style. The book is a clumsy cut-and-paste job performed on the Oaktree shareholder letters (freely available on their website). After a promising first few chapters, the book fails to launch into any real meat. Clearly we need to use "second level thinking" to take into account the expectations of the rest of the market - but how does one put that into practice? Some nitty-gritty real world advice would not have gone am ...more
Tirath
I finished my 3rd reading of this book a few months ago, and I find myself opening the book every now and then.

Howard Marks is one of the most admired and read HF managers in the world and runs (had founded) a distressed asset fund at Oaktree. Just like many other books by other awesome HF managers, this book is full of useful knowledge - again, primarily about investor/ market behaviour and psychology, the traits of successful investors and enumerates a few of the most important things required
...more
Terry Koressel
Outstanding book. If you are a serious investor, then this is serious book for you. The writing style was average at best. I suspect most readers will find the book dry and boring. More importantly, most readers will find the book "unhelpful"…but they are wrong. So many people are trying to find a magic formula, but there is none. Investing is hard work and requires thousands of hours of experience. Howard Marks is one of the world's most intelligent investors in my opinion. His Oaktree Capital ...more
Eric Zilber
Nothing earth-shattering conveyed here, but it is a good reinforcement. Would always read what Marks has to say, his track record at OakTree is brilliant. I would read this as a refresher only.
Pyoungsung Choi
투자철학에 대하여 저자가 여러 해 동안 다양한 금융시장의 이벤트들을 겪으면서 적었던 메모를 중심으로 생각할 거리를 던져둔다. 하지만 말그대로 철학이기 때문에 막연하고 뜬구름 잡는 소리로 끝날 수 있는 부분이 많아 아쉽다. 싸게 사거나 버블에 올라타선 안 된다는 것은 많은 사람들이 아는 것이지만, 도대체 언제가 버블인가?
Martin
I have mixed feelings about this book. The opening chapters about risk I appreciated. I argued in Investments 101 that volatility is no measure of risk, and the lecturer didn't really get what I was saying, and I didn't have the vocabulary to fully explain it. Marks does.

On the other hand, much of this book is dull as dirt conservative investing high-level strategy of no particular value for anyone who reads the WSJ or watches CNBC and Fox Business. A Random Walk Down Wall Street covers much of
...more
Mof
Top five investment guide book.


What Can't We Do
Can't know what the economies of the world will do
Can't know whether markets will go up or down, by how much and when
Can't know by how much markets will go up or down
Can't know when markets will go up or down
Can't know which market will do best.
Can't know which security will do best


What We can Do
Identify asset classes
Identify strategies
Identify approaches

Know about companies and industries

Find bargins
Avoid overpriced securit
...more
Julian Bu
plenty of nuggets.. helpful for forming a solid investment process.
Chris Baptist
Worth reading, but start with Graham, Buffett and Phil Fisher.
Brian Zheng
If you haven't heard of Howard Marks from Oaktree Capital or haven't read his memos, you should definitely get this book. "The Essays of Howard Marks" would be more suitable for the book's name as this is this collection of his thoughtful memos to investors starting from 1990. The content of the book is surely a 5 star. His memos are comparable to Warren Buffett's letter to shareholders in terms of quality and wisdom shared, although the focus is slightly different. The best of the book is about ...more
Mona Zhang
It is a book with reading over and over again
James
This is a pathetically uninteresting book.

The author is a founder of a money management firm and it appears the book is a sales tool to lure investors to his fund.

A thousand worthless cliches that have been printed many times by countless others.
e.g.
"Like a pendulum the swing of investor psychology toward an extreme causes energy to build up that eventually will contribute to the swing back in the other direction."

His basic message is, be a contrarian.
But then, doesn't every one say that des
...more
Hamza
This book reveals the most important thing(s) about investing.
Chet
This is one of the better books on investing I've come across, and I've read dozens. You will not be given any magic formulas or other promises of instant wealth. Rather, the empahsis is on investor temperament, exploiting inefficient markets, and what he calls "second-level thinking". He drives home his belief that by avoiding the losers, the winners will take care of themselves.

Anyone looking for trading tactics, valuation formulas, chart interpretations, or other get-rich-quick schemes will
...more
Jane
Marks makes some very important points about investing. This is however not a how to invest book. It spends a lot of time on the psychological problems people have dealing with investments. As he states at the beginning, his education included the two main schools of investment thought ... both the qualitative approach at Wharton and the quantitative approach at the University of Chicago. His education and decades of experience make what he has to say extremely important. When experience speaks, ...more
Mike Jaksa
Excellent read from one of the greatest. Really liked the large focus on assessing risk. If you like Howard Marks' notes, you'll really like this.
Matt Kelty
I'm a huge fan of Marks letters to his clients, and I respect him both as an investor and as a good writer. This book is "really good", worth a read, but lacking that special something that would put it up there with the classics. It's useful for professional investors as a good reminder of where true north lies, but it flies a little to high above the subject matter and too often feels like a polished-up collection of his letters.
Andrew
A decent guide to investing, particularly for private equity, though I think it was written for investors who already have a working knowledge of the space. While I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know, it was solid reminder of what to look out for. Perhaps even more important, as far as an investing book goes, this was pretty easy to read and I probably got through it in just a few sittings.
Ryan Harvey
Five stars for the message, three stars for repetitiveness. As a longtime reader of Howard Marks's memos, I was excited about this book. I must confess I was a bit disappointed that it didn't contain much that was new, relative to those memos.

Still, although I believe that the book was too much a rehash of what I had read before, I would recommend it to any investor. The message is an important one.
Kun
A investment classic.
Craig


This isn't a play book on how to invest, instead it talks about not getting hung up with following the crowd or trying to keep up with the Jones. Mark makes the point that good long term return on investments should be based on research, understanding and balance of risk against return. This advise is also meaningful in real life, not just investment strategies.
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Eagerly Awaited 1 4 Mar 08, 2011 04:03AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. If adding books to this author, please use Howard^^Marks.

Howard Stanley Marks is an American investor and writer. He holds a B.S.Ec. degree cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a major in finance and an M.B.A. in accounting and marketing from the Booth School of Business of t
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More about Howard Marks...
Memo To Oaktree Clients, From Howard Marks The Gathering Storm

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“If one is approached with a deal predicated on cycles having ceased to occur, remember that invariably that’s a losing bet.” 0 likes
“Every once in a while, an up-or-down-leg goes on for a long time and/or to a great extreme and people start to say "this time it's different." They cite the changes in geopolitics, institutions, technology or behaviour that have rendered the "old rules" obsolete. They make investment decisions that extrapolate the recent trend. And then it turns out that the old rules still apply and the cycle resumes. In the end, trees don't grow to the sky, and few things go to zero.” 0 likes
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