Morningstar's reading recommendations for 2023
Our global manager researchers share their best reading, watching and listening recommendations for the new year
It’s the time of the year when Morningstar analysts look to one another for recommendations on how to use their education stipend, a company perk used to encourage lifelong learning habits.
Below are a few of the book recommendations circulating among our global research team.
Jeff Ptak, chief ratings officer, Chicago
In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio by Andrew W. Lo and Stephen R. Foerster
This is an accessible and heady chronicle of how we build portfolios, how that’s changed, and why we’ve done it the way we’ve done it over time. How did investors come to coalesce around the 60/40 portfolio allocation, and what role do alternatives play in asset allocation? This readable book takes on those questions and many more.
The Bogle Effect by Eric Balchunas
Balchunas is a well-established expert on exchange-traded funds and indexing, but he hadn’t added "accomplished author" to his resume until he published this enjoyable book. It is first and foremost a rollicking story of how Jack Bogle came to build The Vanguard Group, a tale that is equal parts relentless drive, serendipitous fortune, and bold ingenuity. But it also serves as a tour of the investment management business in its infancy and adolescence, the rise of academics and quants, and the nexus of the two that saw the index fund rise and eventually dominate.
Expectations Investing: Reading Stock Prices for Better Returns by Michael Mauboussin and Alfred Rappaport
Mauboussin is a prolific researcher but also a gifted writer, and he puts those abundant talents to good use in this book with Rappaport. This is a primer on how to invert the traditional fundamental research process to glean unique insights about a security and what it’s worth. It has become writ among analysts that their edge is in tearing apart a firm’s financial filings, chasing down customers and suppliers, and peppering the CFO with questions. The authors don’t so much reject that approach as ask whether we ought to work backward from a security’s price, so as to better understand the expectations impounded and then make an independent assessment of whether those expectations are well-founded or not. Laden with examples and checklists and thoughtfully organised, it is a good and very readable manual for experienced and novice analysts alike.
Mathieu Caquineau, director, equity strategies ratings, Paris
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
A fascinating and thought-provoking read that delves into the psychological and emotional aspects of personal finance and how we relate to money. Our relationship with money is complex and influenced by culture and personal experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting out, this book challenges the conventional wisdom and assumptions that many of us hold about money.
The Knowledge Project Podcast
Host Shane Parrish uncovers the best of what other people have already figured out so you can use their insights in your life. New episodes every second Tuesday.
Michael Dobson, associate analyst, multi-asset and alternative strategies, Toronto
The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman
A fantastic tale of renaissance technologies and Jim Simons. It details the start, multiple trials and failures, and end result of the most successful investment firms of all time. It dealt with the primitive form of machine learning, too, and it focuses on taking a nonfinancial approach to the markets. The results cannot be argued with!
Francesco Paganelli, senior analyst, alternative strategies, Milan
What happens when ordinary people are taught a system to make extraordinary money? This is the true story behind Wall Street legend Richard Dennis and his disciples, the Turtles, and the trading techniques that made them millionaires.
David Carey, associate analyst, equity strategies, Chicago
Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away by Annie Duke
This book challenges the way we think about quitting. Society has deemed quitting a vice and an antithesis to being "gritty." Duke lays the groundwork to challenge that thinking in this thought-provoking book.
Bloomberg’s Odd Lots Podcast
Co-hosts Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal tackle complicated topics in business and make them easily digestible. With fascinating guests and insightful questions, this podcast is a must listen.
Brian Moriarty, associate director, fixed income strategies, Chicago
This video from Matt Colville does so many things: lays out what makes a show like Stranger Things so popular, highlights the impact even small differences in socioeconomic status can have on relationships, and speaks to the heart of the tension between conformity and individuality. While Colville is primarily known as a Dungeons & Dragons icon, he has become someone I look to for clarity of thought and inspiration in areas as varied as music, design, and writing. (His D&D stuff is pretty great, too!)
Flirting With Models Podcast
Corey Hoffstein takes a wonderful deep dive into various quantitative investment strategies. My day-to-day is spent researching and writing about fundamental fixed income strategies, so Hoffstein’s podcast is a pleasant view into a completely different part of the market. It is vital analysts avoid tunnel vision and don’t get bogged down in areas of expertise. Hoffstein’s podcast, which helpfully comes in digestible seasons rather than a constant content deluge, keeps me from becoming blinded to the rest of the investment universe.
Simon Scott, director, alternative strategies ratings, Sydney
The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders Read the Stars by Duane Hamacher
We no longer look to the sky to forecast the weather, predict the seasons, or plant our gardens. Most of us cannot even see the milky way. But first nations elders of the world still maintain this knowledge, and there is much we can learn from them. These Elders are expert observers of the stars. They teach that everything on the land is reflected in the sky, and everything in the sky is reflected on the land. How does this work, and how can we better understand our place in the universe?
Todd Trubey, senior analyst, equity strategies, Chicago
Childs wanted to write a book that made fixed income more approachable to a broad audience. Because she wrote that book about Pimco, it ultimately took seven years because the ending kept changing. The narrative in The Bond King has a lot of King Lear in it, a bit of Game of Thrones, and definitely some Real Housewives – but with guys who have Bloomberg Terminals.
You can watch Todd’s conversation with Mary Childs about The Bond King at this year’s Morningstar Investment Conference; it starts at the 1:30 mark.
Janet Yang Rohr, director, multi-asset and alternatives strategies, Chicago
Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More With Less by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz
The many readers and fans of Smart Brevity will tell you that this book is about how to say more with less, making sure your message comes across successfully among jammed inboxes and constant streams of digital feeds. The book does this and helps readers visualise the results with colour, illustrations, bullet points, and headings galore.
I also like to think that this is a book about empathy and understanding, however. It’s about knowing that every one of us is the protagonist in our own story, leading a complicated inner life that few outsiders could hope to fully grasp. And when we think from that perspective, we can more easily let go of our egos, pare down our writing to the essentials, and give readers and investors what matters the most to them.