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Investing: The Last Liberal Art

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  723 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Offering a picture of investing within the larger world, this title explains how investment managing works by borrowing the big ideas from other complex disciplines: biology, economics, mathematics, philosophy, physics and psychology. In the biology chapter, Hagstrom analyses the central nervous system and the immune system as complex adaptive systems and then draws parall ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 22nd 2002 by Texere Publishing (first published November 17th 2000)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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Ian Robertson
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Investing: The Last Liberal Art contains no direction on how to read a balance sheet, or on how to project earnings into the future and discount them back to today’s value, nor are there arcane financial terms to send readers scrambling for dictionaries. Still, Investing is an essential book for professional and amateur stock pickers who want to excel, portfolio managers preparing to interview prospective analysts, and investors trying to choose amongst the many advisors ready to serve their nee ...more
May Ling
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have rallied against STEM and business education for some time and it's rally against the liberal arts who like Ghandi do not put up a fight. This is yet another book that articulates so well the net affect on society.

The book is written with such positive light of what a liberal arts education could do for a person. The ability to think is what should be the focus, not the acquisition of knowledge. It has several great book lists that I hope to add to my noggin. I love the examples from Char
Pedro Esperanca
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easy to read book on polydisciplinary wisdom.
As most of the best books on this subject, investing, even though being the main focus, is simply in the background.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the last chapter, the author writes something that perfectly sets the context for this in my mind slightly overlooked investment book (1st ed 2000): “Improving the resource condition of our System 2 thinking – that is to say, deepening and broadening our reserves of relevant information – is the principal reason this book was written”. Writing that in 2000, two years before Daniel Kahneman received the Swedish Riksbank’s economic prize in memory of Alfred Nobel for a lifetime’s effort to put ...more
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Charlie Munger once said "stock picking is a subdivision of the art of worldly wisdom". Instead of looking at markets through mere finance/economics lens, you need to consider a wide body of knowledge.

Combining mental models from different disciplines to form a latticework of understanding can lead to ideas with high conviction. Physics, Biology, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, Literature, Mathematics, Decision making-all of them are somehow tied to the world of investing.

Economics borrowed
Will Akins
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few books and blogs on mental models and applying those to decisions, but this is the first book that helped me understand them on a deeper level. I hit somewhat of an obstacle with applying mental models in my life which is what led me to this book. That, and I found it for $3.

Prior to reading the book I could understand a concept (model), and then apply it to a situation, but I didn't know how to apply multiple models, and weigh them independently, in decision making. The models
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting take on both investing and college education. After reading, I'd recommend reading the last 2 chapters first. Then, if intrigued, go back and read from the beginning. The author's premise is that the liberal arts degree was meant to expand our thinking not focus it in one limited area. I concur his his assessment. He spends a chapter on various liberal art topics - physics, biology, social sciences, psychology, philosophy and literature. He weaves his investment philosophy through ea ...more
Jai Gupta
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is interdisciplinary in nature and talks about investing from multiple perspective. The author primarily focuses on the fact that the notion of investing, economics and markets are symbiotically associated with a larger body of human knowledge, yet the forces of this new era compels and demands us to specialise in one particular field. One needs to start on the quest of connections and parallels between Finance and ideas in multiple avenues of knowledge to be able to invest in a more in ...more
Igor Chalhub
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book on mental models.
Harsh Thaker
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book answers the question, why multi disciplinary thinking is required not only to be a better investor but also a better thinker
Peter S
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book was going to be for people with a liberal arts background. I hoped Hagstrom would reveal all the great qualities a liberal arts education would have for an investor, and how to apply those ideas. Instead, it worked in the opposite view, and assumed the reader was not well read at all. So, it felt like it was for an investor who needed to be convinced about the merits of opening their minds.

It had chapters on all the major fields of a liberal arts degree - math, physics, biol
Md. Nazmus Sakib
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book that will spark new way of thinking.

We are often blindsided by our notion of sticking to one discipline, being specialized, having a core philosophy of looking at the world. The tendency to gain expertise in one area is not a bad thing to do or bad thing to be but not having the flexibility to look at other disciplines or other school of thoughts may deprive us of building a mental model that is more useful. It’s obviously better to have lots of angles to look at things than having a sin
Sandy Salzinger
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a rah rah book for the advocacy of Charlie Munger’s mental models and a more interdisciplinary attitude towards higher education. The author has separate chapters for physics, biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, literature, mathematics, and decision making ( Kahneman’s Systems 1& 2) where he touches on basic knowledge in each discipline and then tries to show how this knowledge could help the investing professional. Not being an investing pro I guess what one could get out of thi ...more
Nirav Mehta
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is different from most investing-related books that I have read. It follows the principle that investing is actually a liberal art, and being a good investor requires an individual to have broader horizons and the importance of wisdom over intellect.

The book draws parallels from different streams of arts or sciences with the investing world, including physics, biology, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, etc. The conclusion is in line with Charlie Munger's investing philosophy - that
Ashley Rucker
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you'd like to skip reading this book then all you really need to know are these two things:

1. Everything you learn has the potential to apply to everything you do (not just investing) so when you learn something, try and make connections.

2. Learn everything you can.

Don't misunderstand me, I don't think that reading this is a waste of times. The author takes the two concepts above and very thoroughly applies them to investing. The book is full of interesting facts and biographies of people you
Brittanie Smith
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I didn’t agree with every premise, particularly the chapter dealing with evolution and even the whole idea behind the stock market being the main “investment” discussed. But this was wonderfully written, and contained so many “ah-ha” moments for me regarding how to think and how to educate yourself to be able to conduct your life in every area and discipline in a way that leads to success. The idea of the latticework of mental models is awesome and rings so true. Hagstrom has written ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Opening one's mind to absorb knowledge from multiple disciplines and linking them together so that they enforce each other to gain a better understanding of the world helps not only in investing but in many other aspects in life.

Well written book, chapters are well connected, I have learned a great many of ideas (from different disciplines) in this books that I would now have to go and study the original work by respective authors.
Elijah Oyekunle
I really love the main concept behind this book, which is that having a broad knowledge in several fields can help improve every aspect of one's life through the combination of ideas.
Then the author tries giving an overview of some really important fields although I didn't think those can do much except provoke an interest in the reader to dive deeper into those topics; because the overviews themselves are not enough.
Overall, this is a good book.
Abhay Bhagat
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is about multi disciplinary thinking. Charlie said "worldly wisdom is mostly very very simple , they are a relatively small numbers of disciplines and a relatively small number of truly big ideas. It is a lot of fun to figure out. Even better , the fun never stops further more there is a lot of money. As i can testify from my personal experience". It give broad principles from physics, chemistry, biology and psychology to be used in day to day life.
Mourisham Jose
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not manage to squeeze into my MUST READ INVESTMENT BOOK but this book nonetheless offered me a new perspective especially on Charlie Munger's latticework of mental models. In order to survive in an unpredictable world that we are living in today, one must be equipped with worldly wisdom. A heavy duty book especially if you do not have science background. ...more
Tarin Bansal
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: investing
This book is basically a collection of summaries from various other authors like Taleb, Kahneman, Pabrai, Munger, Yuval Noah Harari etc. Good value add if this is among the first investment related books you pick, not so much otherwise.
Saikat Sengupta
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finance
One of the best books to explain the 'lollapalooza effect' ...more
Gaurav Singh Kopite
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. A must read for any investor who wants to learn what it truly takes to be a good one
Patrik Bergman
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

One of the greatest books I have read where liberal arts and broader wisdom are applied to investing. Highly recommended.
On mental models as it relates to value investing. Good multidisciplinary approach to the topic.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant concept of applying major principles from diverse disciplines. This book changed the way I see and interact with the world.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: investing
I agree with the overarching theme: be broad-minded in your understanding of the world. However, there is more form than substance.
Pedro Zagury
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: investing
Great summary of main mental models, from different disciplines. Starting point for having Munger's elementary worldly wisdom. ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read and lead to a number of further book recommendations
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Robert G. Hagstrom is Senior Vice President and Director of Legg Mason Focus Capital. He has authored the New York Times best-selling The Warren Buffett Way and The Warren Buffett Portfolio, as well as The Nascar Way. He lives with his family in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

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