Book Review: Wealth Creation Thoughts

The Book ‘Wealth Creation Thoughts’ is authored by veteran investor Raamdeo Agrawal .

I thought the Book would be about identifying stocks which can create wealth etc

Instead, the Book turned out to be a collection of sayings/utterances from great investors like Buffett,Munger etc

The sayings often have spelling mistakes and are without attribution to the original source.

The “wealth creation thoughts” are those kind of phrases which sound great but have very little practical application

For instance, sample the following:

“Everyone has the brain power to make money in stocks, but few have the stomach instead”

“The public buys most at the top and least at the bottom”

I would rather you avoid this Book and buy me a Beer instead !

Book Review: Instant Millionaires

The Book ‘Instant Millionaires’ is written by Max Gunther who wrote the very popular ‘The Zurich Axioms‘ and ‘How to get Lucky

Everyone knows that its not easy nor quick to become rich.It’s a long hard slog of working,saving and investing to become a Millionaire.

This Book wonders if there is an alternative to that…is it possible to become rich instantly – other than winning a lottery ticket,marrying money or by being born into a rich family.

The Book then looks at various fields where people became very rich instantly…or atleast in a few (3/4) years.

The Book was originally published in 1973.So it does not cover ESOPs and our Silicon Valley kind of millionaires.

It covers areas like glamour,inventions,business etc where people went from penury to riches in a matter of years.

There is a lot of hindsight bias in the examples…it’s just that some people got lucky while others who were equally talented did not do so.

I was interested in this Book by the success of the employees and investors in Paytm…its incredible how they became “instantly rich” and got the kind of returns that otherwise takes decades to achieve.

Alas, the Book did not offer any insights on how to identify and exploit such opportunities…other than the common-sensical¬† “Be at the right place at the right time and do the right thing”

I would recommend this Book only for die-hard Max Gunther fans.

Book Review: The Harriman Book of Investing Rules

The Book ‘ The Harriman Book of Investing Rules’ is written by Philip Jenks and Stephen Eckett.

It’s a strange kind of book in the sense that it contains 10 rules from 150 investors…i.e. a collection of around 1500 rules on investing !

But much to my surprise, I found the book to be an interesting read.

One reason was that the investors were from all parts of the financial jungle-futures traders,market makers,options traders,index investors, stock pickers,macro traders,currency specialists.,economists, financial journalists etc.One investor was actually a financial astrologer !

The other reason was each investor brought something different to the table based on his experience and his expertise.Just like it takes different opinions to make a market, similarly it takes different kinds of rules for one’s one persona and style.

There were sections on specific parts of the market like tobacco stocks,chemical industry,emerging markets,ipos etc

I learnt quite a few things from the Book and but two important takeaways from the Book was in a section called “Interpreting the News Flow”:

a) Silence Speaks Volumes

If there is no statement of denial from a company within 24 hour of a speculative story, chances are it’s true

b)The Company Declined to Comment

If a story contains the phrase ‘the company declined to comment’, it normally means precisely the opposite.In most cases. the company has commented and confirmed a story, but does not wish to be on the record.

What I didn’t like about the Book was that it was originally published in 2001 and later reprinted in 2006…so its not really updated.The financial crisis which is mentioned in the book is the dot com crash of 2000 !!

I would recommend this Book only for people who are endlessly fascinated by all things related to investing.

Book Review: The Billionaire Raj

The Book ‘The Billionaire Raj’ is written by James Crabtree, who spent five years in India as Mumbai Bureau Chief for The Financial Times.

People getting posted to India often write a Book on it in an attempt to cash in on their experiences.

This Book falls into that unfortunate genre.

Its a way of looking at India with foreign eyes and trying to explain it to a foreign audience.There is nothing here for the Indian reader.

The initial chapters of the Book cover India’s tycoons Mukesh Ambani,Vijay Mallya, Gautam Adani etc but the coverage is v superficial…there is nothing new that an Indian reader/investor would not know.

Then the Book goes on to describe the House of Debt that Indian tycoons immediately piled up post 2008…concepts like gold plating , political nexus, corruption etc is explained.

Then the author covers India’s Cricket,Media and Politics…surprised he didn’t cover India’s other cliched love – Bollywood.

The Book appears dated as the author left India in 2016 and didn’t cover the tumultuous happenings after that.

I got a feeling that the author started the Book with the premise that India’s industrialists were like Russian oligarchs.But subsequent developments like NCLT, IBC,Fugitive Act etc threw that premise out of the window.

The author seems to have a pet peeve…Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilla. There are multiple references to it in the Book. He probably considers it a symbol of India’s gilded age, its inequality, it’s tycoons etc.

He has a pet love too…former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.The author probably has a photo of him in his wallet !

Do buy this Book only if you are a foreign expat getting posted to India.

Book Review: Big Mistakes-The Best Investors & Their Worst Mistakes

The Book ‘Big Mistakes-The Best Investors & Their Worst Mistakes’ is written by Michael Batnick who blogs at The Irrelevant Investor

As the Title suggests, the Book covers the investing mistakes of 16 Investors, including the author.

Some of the investors covered in the Book are Ben Graham, Warren Buffett,Charlie Munger, John Maynard Keynes, Chris Sacca,Stanley Druckenmiller etc

The author does a fantastic job of explaining the circumstances and rationale by which these super investors made their mistakes.

The Book contains lots of investing wisdom and is a terrific read.

Some great excerpts from the Book:

“You must react to losses with equanimity.The time to sell an investment is not after it has declined in price.If this is how you invest,you’re destined for a long life of disappointing returns.Learn from the best and do not attempt to avoid losses.It cannot be done.Instead,focus on making sure that you’re not putting yourself in a position of being a forced seller.”

“What stands out for me,as far as lessons I’ve learned in the market,is that if you have a liability coming due in the next few months or even few years. do not invest.The market doesn’t care about your goals.It doesn’t know that you’re retiring in five years or when your child is going to college.”

The last chapter is on the author’s own investment journey which I found to be brutally honest and illuminating.

The Book contains the lessons only from American investors…hope some enterprising reader writes one on the investment follies of our top Indian investors.

I would strongly recommend this book if you want to become a better investor.