American Sucker, David Denby
A beguiling account of how New Yorker film critic, David Denby, became consumed by the tech boom (and subsequent crash) of the early 2000s as he tried to make enough money out of the stock market to buy out his wife's share of their Upper West Side apartment when she suddenly and unexpecteddly left him after 18 years of marriage. This is a modern day morality tale of the first order.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis
Twenty years after his eighties classic, Liar's Poker, which recounted the excesses of that decade through the Salomon Brothers bond dealing desk, Michael Lewis charts the genesis of the GFC and tells the story of some of the interesting and generally "odd" characters who saw it coming.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A "black swan" is a highly improbable event with a massive impact. Nassim Nicholas Taleb challenges the tyranny of the Gaussian bell curve in representing "risk".
Built to Last, Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
The authors take a sample of iconic businesses such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard and Sony that have persistently outperformed the market over a sustained period and ask the question, "what distinguishes these companies from their more prosaic peers?" With the help of an army of graduate students they conduct some of the most thorough corporate history research ever carried out. Jim Collins' subsequent work, Good to Great is a fitting companion piece.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, Philip Fisher
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles MacKay
An account of mania's in financial markets including the Dutch Tulip-mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble of the 1700s. It serves to remind us (to quote a September 2008 article in Time magazine) that, "The four most dangerous words ... for your financial health are 'This time, it's different.' It's never different. It's always the same, but with bigger numbers."
New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, has explored the implications of globalisation in The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat. In Hot, Flat and Crowded Friedman suggests that embracing a green revolution could not only stave off the worst climate change scenarios but also bolster America's economy and flagging reputation.
The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham
Benjamin Graham (the "Dean of Wall Street") is the father of modern day security analysis and the first to approach the valuation of securities in a systematic way. The definitive text on the subject, Security Analysis, was based on lectures Graham gave at Columbia University and was published in 1934. The Intelligent Investor is Benjamin Graham's most accessible work and an excellent place to start for anyone wishing to understand the principles of value investing.
Masters of the Market, Anthony Hughes, Geoff Wilson and Matthew Kidman
A fascinating series of interviews with a range of extremely successful Australian investors including Peter Morgan, David Paradice, Sir Ron Brierly, Peter Hall and Robert Maple-Brown. What emerges is a compelling view of the science and art of stock-picking as practised by these money managers.
The second edition of this book re-visits many of these same investors two years down the track and also offers some interesting insights into their investment processes.
One Up on Wall Street, Peter Lynch
This is a good book for the beginner investor. Peter Lynch explains in very straightforward terms some of the basic principles of value investing.
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
From junior league hockeys players to pioneering software engineers and the wealthiest people through history, Gladwell looks at those who excell at a particular activity and asks how much their success is a product of their individual ability and drive and how much a product of the particular time and place in which they were born. His "10,000 hour rule" is particularly interesting.
For many years Charlie Munger has been Warren Buffett's "silent" partner at Berkshire Hathaway. He makes an annual public appearance at the company's AGM in Omaha where he typically makes some wry and telling observations on the state of the world.
A few years ago he was persuaded to compile a number of his speeches and commentaries in a single volume. As humility is not one of Charlie's burdens, he agreed as long as the proceeds went to the Munger Research Center at the Huntington Library in California.
This book holds an enormous amount of both investment and human wisdom.
The Snowball, Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder
"You'd better be picking up snow as you go along, because you're not going to be getting back up to the top of the hill again. That's the way life works ... The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill." Warren Buffett
Alice Schroeder was a financial analyst covering Berkshire Hathaway when, in response to her suggestion that he write an autobiography, Warren Buffett persuaded her to undertake that task. Warren Buffett opened his world to her with the sole instruction that, "Whenever my version is different from somebody else's, Alice, use the less flattering version." Schroeder has taken him at his word and what emerges is a 900 page (including exhaustive endnotes) tome that paints a more complex and nuanced picture of this super-investor than any previous work has managed.
An extremely lively and entertaining foray into the diabolical world of derivatives and how they have been transformed from instruments for hedging risk to "financial weapons of mass destruction".
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