Crash course: 10 books to navigate 2020

1) The Alchemy of Finance by George Soros

The key message is the one on reflexivity; that the price of an asset doesn’t just reflect the market it represents but also influences it as well. According to Soros “When events have thinking participants, the subject matter is no longer confined to facts but also includes the participants perceptions. The chain of causation does not lead directly from fact to fact but from fact to perception and from perception to fact.” Although it is some 30 years old now its still as relevant, if not more so today than ever.

2) The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor, by Howard Marks

Marks was one of the first fund managers to produce content for investors way back in the 1990’s and still does to this day. This book is a collection of his best notes, organised into 20 succinct and compelling chapters.

3) Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre

Probably one of the timeless books on how markets actually work. This book teaches you that the real money to be made is in following long trends, rather than trying to time the bottom. It teaches you to focus on where you have an edge, and not to take tips from other people.

4) Anatomy of the Bear: Lessons from Wall Street’s Four Great Bottoms by Russell Napier

Napier provides the structure for financial bear markets. Key point from the book is that investors are typically too keen to get back into the market. Central bank and government intervention in a market typically don’t bring much in the way of lasting enthusiasm.

5) Principles For Navigating Big Debt Crisis, by Ray Dalio

Dalio outlines Bridgewater’s research on more than 50 debt crisis that have occurred over the past 100 years, drawing together the remarkable similarities. It provides a consistent playbook for how crisis play out, how policymakers respond (who often make the same mistakes) and what it means for investors. This article pulls together some of the main insights I took away from the book (emboldened text mine).

6) The Big Reset, by Willem Middlekoop

A well written book with lots of useful insights about how central banks intervene in gold markets. Author outlines how and why we are getting close to a global monetary reset akin to the end of the Gold Standard and the adoption of fiat.

7) Why Stock Markets Crash: Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems, by Didier Sornette

The author outlines the basic structure of financial markets. The book outlines the structure of past crashes in detail. It’s a useful guide for navigating perilous stock-markets – with the caveat that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

8) Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: 

Probably the most useful book I’ve ever read. My measure by which I find a book useful is the likelihood that I am going to read it again and again and again. For that to happen a book has of course to be well written but has to also hold lots of nuggets of information and insight that I use again and again. For a complete answer as to why I found the book so useful check out my answer on Quora.

9) The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Outlines the precautionary principle in which bad but highly uncertain outcomes have potentially ruinous consequences. This book is a great insight into how we all tend to underestimate the likelihood of tail risks – both positive and negative.

10) Pay Attention: 101 Ways To Tame The Narrative Machine, Be A Smarter Media Consumer And Stop Outsourcing Your Thinking, by Peter Sainsbury

Finally, an unashamed shout-out to my recently published book. In this world of in which we look to the media – both mainstream and social networks – for guidance it is more important than ever to be a smarter consumer. My book will hopefully help guide you on that journey.

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