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Books for your Christmas stocking

Glenn Freeman  |  08 Dec 2017Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Below, you'll find some inspiring, entertaining reads from the deep-thinkers of the finance world--as recommended by members of the Morningstar senior leadership team in Australia and the US.

Narrative and numbers

Adam Fleck, who heads up Australia's equity research operations in Australia and New Zealand, recommends Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business, by Aswath Damodaran.

"Published in 2017, this book does a great job helping investors think about how to tie together both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of an investment thesis," says Fleck.

Investing as both art and science is an overarching theme, as explored by Professor Damodaran--regarded as one of the best in the industry at thinking about long-term value drivers and forecasts.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, from William N. Thorndike, is another title on Fleck's side table.

"A few years old at this point, this topped Warren Buffett's annual shareholder letter's reading list in 2012," Fleck says.

"This book dives into the stories behind eight relatively unknown CEOs, including their thoughts about capital allocation, cash flow, and long-term strategy."

Signal and Noise

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Rounding out Fleck's reading recommendations is The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--But Some Don't.

"Also written in 2012, it's authored by Nate Silver, founder of one of my favourite websites, fivethirtyeight.com--named for the number of electorates in the electoral college of the United States, those actually responsible for electing the president," he says.

"Nate Silver brings a fantastic data-driven, yet approachable, lens to the world of politics, sports, economics, and science."

End of Theory

John Rekenthaler--vice president of research for Morningstar in the US, and contributor to Morningstar.com.au--recommends The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction, by Richard Bookstaber.

"The most ambitious investment book you will ever encounter, he tosses both traditional economists and behaviourists over the cliff, instead offering a new model for explaining how markets operate."

"Is he correct? You've got me. But the book is quite readable."

Ego is the Enemy

Jason Prowd, who heads up Morningstar's recently launched digital investment platform, Morningstar Next, suggests the following books.

Ego is the Enemy, written by Ryan Holiday and published last year, is "a short fun look at how celebrating the ego isn't the path to success, but indeed, quite the opposite".

"Holiday largely draws on the wisdom of the Stoics, along with other illuminating examples from history," he says.

A Bone of Fact

And from Australian author David Walsh, creator of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, is the autobiographical title A Bone of Fact.

"Having built a fortune from gambling, and having funnelled a large portion into the MONA in Hobart, Walsh is a peculiar fellow, and his wealth affords him a freedom of thought that most avoid," Prowd says.

"This is a fun, strange, and frank memoir from a fascinating individual."

Change Your Life

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, by Russ Roberts, rounds out Prowd's list.

"Many will know Roberts from his popular EconTalks podcast (it's great if you haven't tuned in)," he says.

"Here he shares his take on Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It's a short and accessible journey through an incisive and often forgotten gem, from one of history's most important economists, and full of practical wisdom about the human condition."

Second Machine Age

Chris Douglas, Morningstar director of manager research ratings, Asia-Pacific, is currently reading The Second Machine Age, by by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

Given the hi-tech nature of the content and the book's January 2016 publication date, "things have already advanced significantly since it was published. But still, for a book on technology disruption, automation and artificial intelligence, it's a very engaging read," Douglas says.

"It's a great book to provide insights on the impact and influence of technology on our lives and businesses."

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Glenn Freeman is a senior editor at Morningstar.

© 2017 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither Morningstar, its affiliates, nor the content providers guarantee the data or content contained herein to be accurate, complete or timely nor will they have any liability for its use or distribution. This information is to be used for personal, non-commercial purposes only. No reproduction is permitted without the prior written consent of Morningstar. Any general advice or 'class service' have been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892), or its Authorised Representatives, and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information at www.morningstar.com.au/s/fsg.pdf. Our publications, ratings and products should be viewed as an additional investment resource, not as your sole source of information. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product's future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a licensed financial adviser. Some material is copyright and published under licence from ASX Operations Pty Ltd ACN 004 523 782 ("ASXO"). The article is current as at date of publication.

is senior editor for Morningstar Australia

© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither Morningstar, its affiliates, nor the content providers guarantee the data or content contained herein to be accurate, complete or timely nor will they have any liability for its use or distribution. This information is to be used for personal, non-commercial purposes only. No reproduction is permitted without the prior written consent of Morningstar. Any general advice or 'regulated financial advice' under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892), or its Authorised Representatives, and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information, refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). Our publications, ratings and products should be viewed as an additional investment resource, not as your sole source of information. Morningstar’s full research reports are the source of any Morningstar Ratings and are available from Morningstar or your adviser. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product's future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a licensed financial adviser. Some material is copyright and published under licence from ASX Operations Pty Ltd ACN 004 523 782. The article is current as at date of publication.

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