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The Most Important Things [Investing
Posted on April 10, 2015 @ 07:58:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Google hosts a wide variety of top notch speakers at their campus on a regular basis and post their talks to Google Talks YouTube Channel. I like to check it out every so often to see if there is anything worth watching.

One recent video that has received a larger number of views than normal is by investor Howard Marks, chairman of Oak Tree Capital, who published a well-received investment book called The Most Important Thing (2011, 2013).

In this video Howard Marks outlines the importance of controlling risk, taking randomness seriously, the futility of forcasting, contrarianism, defensive investing, the secret to investing - buying undervalued assets, making money of poor-quality companies, investing as a negative art (what you exclude is more important than what you buy) and more. He also discusses OakTree's investment philosophy and three adages that he lives by. This is followed by over 20 minutes of questions from the Google audience.

One of the main reasons Howard Marks has a reputation among investors is because of his Memos from our Chairman that analyze various issues related to investing. Warren Buffet is listed as one of his biggest fans. I examined his most recent memo titled Liquidity and found it quite philosophical and sprinkled with lots of investment wisdom. His essay discusses many nuances of the liquidity concept and its relationship to making money and losing money as a buyer and seller. I'll be keeping an eye on Howard's future memos and dipping into some of his previous memos.

The project of trying to distill the most important things in your investment philosophy is not an easy task and one might wonder whether it is even necessary. Oaktree Capital has decided to define and rank the most important things in their investment philosophy and have done quite well. There is something to be said for disciplined investing and not just getting caught up in the irrational exuberance of the market. Perhaps Howard Marks can help tweak your investment philosophy through his discussion of the most important things in his book and especially from his memos (from which much of his book is derived).

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