The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

Howard Marks

Columbia Business School Publishing,  May 2011

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

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.

| ISBN: 9780231153683 | Publication Date: May 2011

Reviews:

"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."
-- Joel Greenblatt, Columbia Business School, Founder and Managing Partner of Gotham Capital

"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."
-- Jeremy Grantham, Cofounder and Chief Investment Strategist, Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo

"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."
-- Seth A. Klarman, President, The Baupost Group

"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!"
-- John C. Bogle, Founder and former CEO, The Vanguard Group

"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."
-- Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway