I was expecting a much more detailed explanation of market cycles and the techniques to exploit them. This book would be better titled "Why you should pay attention to market cycles". If you're looking for a technical book on tatical asset allocation through different market cycles, I highly recommend "Applied financial macroeconomics and investment strategy". Overall, if you are above novice level of investor I do not recommend this book. However, if you are novice level then this book can give you solid general philosophies and general strategies which is essential when beginning your investing journey.
Being blunt, most investment books suck - I have about a hundred of them on my shelves (which doesn't include the tons I've given away), and there's only a brief handful that were worth an entire read, much less rereads. But there are a precious few that get read again and again (Intelligent Investor, One Up and Beating the Street, anything by John Train, etc.) and these days I can feel that rare emotion welling up inside me when I know I'm learning something - something important. Mastering the Market Cycle is just such a book.
In many ways, Marks is a very quirky writer. As other folks have noted, he does repeat things from time to time, and his style is so easy going you might be tempted to think it is simplistic - but don't make this insanely bad mistake. Marks is easy to read because he covers his material and thoughts with absolute precision, because he has thought long and hard about what to say, and the continuous repetition occurs because that's how things work in life - they are interconnected. Besides, repetition in this manner is EXACTLY how you want a complicated topic to be taught, and Marks is a master at instruction.
Course, I have another reason for getting excited about this book - I recognize the scared frightened investor I was in 2008 and 2009, and if I'd read this book - or all those Memo's - and actually internalized them I'm next to certain my results would have been much improved. And isn't that what we want in our investment books - an improvement in our technique? I can think of no higher compliment.
This is a phenomenal book and if you manage money for a living you'd be a fool not to read it, and if you invest for yourself you are going to learn a lot. I mean, a lot - and you are going to reread this thing again and again. This is a VERY deep thinking book by a guy with a lot to teach, and opportunities like this one don't come along very often.
And you get this wisdom and knowledge for $18? Absolutely crazy - thanks to the author, thank you very much.
Repetition of material is pushed to the limit. Restating what is stated in a long past memo to investors and then restating the restatement multiple times through-out the book. Nothing new was revealed or explored - basically not helpful and a bit boring.
I waited impatiently for this book to arrive and was surprised that it didn't contain much information about actual market cycles or how to exploit them. Mostly contains some general investing advice that may be better suited for beginning investors. I do have great respect for the author, but actually preferred his first book to this and would recommend that book instead. I tend to not give reviews on books that I didn't love, but the title compelled me to this time.
Howard Marks of the very successful Oaktree Capital Management has written a way too long and very repetitive book on understanding market cycles. Where was his editor when we needed him/her? Nevertheless his “Mastering the Market Cycle” is an important book that will give disciplined investors great insight. Discipline is the operative word, because without it Marks’ insights are of limited value.
Marks cites five critical cycles: 1) economic, 2) profits, 3) stock market 4) credit and 5) risk. An investor has to know where we are with respect to each of those cycles and most important is the risk cycle which is determined by the psychology of investors. Simply put are they greedy or are they fearful. Although this sounds easy in theory it is very difficult to implement. For example it is very hard to be bearish when the whole world is bullish, this I know from experience, and conversely it is even harder to be bullish when the whole world is bearish. It is at the extremes where the most money is to be made and where discipline is most needed.
The problem with implementing Marks’ ideas is that it is difficult to know how long a cycle will go on. Marks’ cites Greenspan’s famous “irrational exuberance speech of late 1996, only to witness the late 90s bull market to roar on for another three years. Although Marks was brilliant in backing up the truck in the credit markets at the height of the Lehman crisis in 2008, even he admits it was a close run thing and his success was dependent upon the efforts of Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner in stemming its worst effects.
Putting Marks’ ideas to use today I find that the current economic upswing is much closer to the end than the beginning, profit growth is certainly peaking, the credit market is wide open to most borrowers on very favorable terms and aside from the past few days in early October most investors remain bullish after a ten year bull market that quadrupled the major stock market indices, and investors seem oblivious to global macro and political risks. Thus the way I read Marks it is at least time to be cautious and consequently a time to de-risk portfolios.
Making one last point, I wish Marks cited the late Hyman Minsky who noted that stability leads to instability and although he didn’t directly state the converse, instability leads to stability. That would be Marks in a nutshell. Although too long and too repetitive “Mastering the Market Cycle” is worth the read. There is much wisdom here.