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Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo. The author provides a framework, the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, that encompasses the findings from efficient market theory and behavioral finance. “Every now and then, there is a book that completely changes your perspective. This is one of those,” BlackRock Chief Risk Officer Ben Golub told me. So this book is top of my list.

Half of all Americans have money in the stock market, yet economists can't agree on whether investors and markets are rational and efficient, as modern financial theory assumes, or irrational and inefficient, as behavioral economists believe?and as financial bubbles, crashes, and crises suggest. This is one of the biggest debates in economics and the value or futility of investment management and financial regulation hang on the outcome. In this groundbreaking book, Andrew Lo cuts through this debate with a new framework, the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, in which rationality and irrationality coexist.

Drawing on psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and other fields, Adaptive Markets shows that the theory of market efficiency isn't wrong but merely incomplete. When markets are unstable, investors react instinctively, creating inefficiencies for others to exploit. Lo's new paradigm explains how financial evolution shapes behavior and markets at the speed of thought?a fact revealed by swings between stability and crisis, profit and loss, and innovation and regulation.

A fascinating intellectual journey filled with compelling stories, Adaptive Markets starts with the origins of market efficiency and its failures, turns to the foundations of investor behavior, and concludes with practical implications?including how hedge funds have become the Galápagos Islands of finance, what really happened in the 2008 meltdown, and how we might avoid future crises.

An ambitious new answer to fundamental questions in economics, Adaptive Markets is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how markets really work.

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Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way by Paul Lever. A helpful summary of what might drive Germany’s negotiations with the UK over Brexit and the future of the European Union, notes recommender Sriram Reddy, an investment strategist within the Global Fixed Income Group and the BlackRock Investment Institute.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Germany became the dominant political and economic power in Europe – and in the EU. Yet Germany's leadership of the EU is geared principally to the defence of German national interests. Germany exercises power in order to protect the German economy and to enable it to play an influential role in the wider world. Beyond that there is no underlying vision or purpose. In this book, former British ambassador to Germany Paul Lever provides a unique insight into modern Germany. He shows how Germany's history has influenced its current economic and social development and provides important perspectives on Germany's future political and cultural growth, especially in the context of the 2015 refugee crisis which saw over 1 million refugees offered a home in Germany. As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, this book will be essential reading and suggests the future shape of a Germany-dominated Europe.


Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. This book by two psychology professors explores the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status and nationality. “Funny, eye opening, and very compelling,” says Isabelle Mateos y Lago, who recommends this one.

I know my own mind.

I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.

These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.

“Blindspot” is the authors’ metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups—without our awareness or conscious control—shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.

In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot.

The title’s “good people” are those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. The aim of Blindspot is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and “outsmart the machine” in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our own minds.

Brilliant, authoritative, and utterly accessible, Blindspot is a book that will challenge and change readers for years to come.


The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu, The Quest for this Storied City and the Race to Save Its Treasures by Charlie English. Ewen Cameron Watt recommends this narrative chronicling the conflict on the front line with al-Qaeda and the race to preserve an ancient culture.

"Timbuktu is a real place, and Charlie English will fuel your wanderlust with true descriptions of the fabled city’s past, present, and future." –Fodor’s 

Two tales of a city: The historical race to “discover” one of the world’s most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.

To Westerners, the name “Timbuktu” long conjured a tantalizing paradise, an African El Dorado where even the slaves wore gold. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, a series of explorers gripped by the fever for “discovery”  tried repeatedly to reach the fabled city.  But one expedition after another went disastrously awry, succumbing to attack, the climate, and disease. Timbuktu was rich in another way too. A medieval center of learning, it was home to tens of thousands—according to some, hundreds of thousands—of ancient manuscripts, on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology, and astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, threatening the existence of these precious documents, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding.

Relying on extensive research and firsthand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fraught and fascinating account of one of the planet's extraordinary places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.


The Man Who Created the Middle East by Christopher Simon Sykes. This read, also an Ewen pick, is the story of the eponymous British diplomat behind the treaty that carved up the Ottoman Empire in 1919 and led to much of the territorial conflict that afflicts us still today.

At the age of only 36, Sir Mark Sykes was signatory to the Sykes-Picot agreement, one of the most reviled treaties of modern times. A century later, Christopher Sykes' lively biography of his grandfather reassesses his life and work, and the political instability and violence in the Middle East attributed to it. The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret pact drawn up in May 1916 between the French and the British, to divide the collapsing Ottoman Empire in the event of an allied victory in the First World War. Agreed without any Arab involvement, it negated an earlier guarantee of independence to the Arabs made by the British. Controversy has raged around it ever since. Sir Mark Sykes was not, however, a blimpish, ignorant Englishman. A passionate traveller, explorer and writer, his life was filled with adventure. From a difficult, lonely childhood in Yorkshire and an early life spent in Egypt, India, Mexico, the Arabian desert, all the while reading deeply and learning languages, Sykes published his first book about his travels through Turkey aged only twenty. After the Boer War, he returned to map areas of the Ottoman Empire no cartographer had yet visited. He was a talented cartoonist, excellent mimic and amateur actor, gifts that ensured that when elected to parliament a full House of Commons would assemble to listen to his speeches. During the First World War, Sykes was appointed to Kitchener's staff, became Political Secretary to the War Cabinet and a member of the Committee set up to consider the future of Asiatic Turkey, where he was thirty years younger than any of the other members. This search would dominate the rest of his life. He was unrelenting in his pursuit of peace and worked himself to death to find it, a victim of both exhaustion and the Spanish Flu. Written largely based on the previously undisclosed family letters and illustrated with Sykes' cartoons, this sad story of an experienced, knowledgeable, good-humoured and generous man once considered the ideal diplomat for finding a peaceful solution continues to reverberate across the world today.


Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III by Robert A. Caro. The author’s epic third volume of five details the rise of Lyndon Johnson to Senate majority leader and the political maneuverings he used to achieve the passage of the first Civil Rights bill since Reconstruction. It provides a glimpse of what legislative success takes. “At 1,232 pages, this may be the only book you need to fill your summer reading,” says Jeffrey Rosenberg, who recommends this one.

The most riveting political biography of our time, Robert A. Caro’s life of Lyndon B. Johnson, continues. Master of the Senate takes Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 through 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson’s brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history and how he used his incomparable legislative genius--seducing both Northern liberals and Southern conservatives--to pass the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction. Brilliantly weaving rich detail into a gripping narrative, Caro gives us both a galvanizing portrait of Johnson himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings of legislative power.