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Summer Vacation Reads for Investors

06 August 2021   |  

Looking for additional summer beach reading to go along with your latest murder mystery, self-improvement book or crossword puzzle? Now is a good time to get some fresh perspectives on investing and financial markets.

We queried our investment teams about some of their favorite books and how those reads have impacted their approach to investing.

We hope you enjoy!

ANAND VASAGIRI, Co-Portfolio Manager, Artisan Partners International Value Team
“Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”
By David Epstein (Macmillan, 2019)

Many of us recall the story of Steve Jobs’ experience with calligraphy lessons early in life and how he only realized the true value of its practice after co-founding Apple. And Charlie Munger—who emphasizes the importance of having a latticework of mental models to operate successfully in the world—calls attention to the value of drawing on models from multiple disciplines. “Range” builds on that theme, providing a host of examples that show how broadening one’s experiences makes it possible to think divergently—and attack a problem (e.g., company, sector, business trend) with a new perspective. Additionally, the book includes Munger’s frameworks for understanding which type of effort or strategy works better in a particular environment, and he proposes interesting insights as relevant to parenting as they are to investing.


TIFFANY HSIAO, Portfolio Manager, Artisan China Post Venture Strategy
“Pioneering Portfolio Management”
By David Swensen (Free Press, 2009)

Drawing on his long tenure as chief investment officer of Yale University’s endowment, David Swensen offers a clear-eyed perspective on building diversified portfolios. As a long-term, multigenerational investor, Swensen looked for asset classes with negative correlations to capture gains across market cycles. Translating Swensen’s insights into my own investment process, I strive to create portfolios of negatively correlated companies, especially companies that my clients are less likely to already own. The intended benefits of this approach are two-fold: volatility reduction through diversification and alpha generation through a highly differentiated portfolio. I regularly go back to Swensen’s insights as I refine my process. Every day, I’m excited to be a student of the markets, while helping my clients achieve their long-term objectives.


DEREK DE PETRA, Head of International Trading
“Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk”
By Peter L. Bernstein (Wiley, 1996)

A fun read about the history of “risk” by Peter Bernstein. A comprehensive history of man's efforts to understand risk and probability, from ancient gamblers in Greece to modern chaos theory. The idea of understanding risk has obvious implications for investing.


CHRIS SMITH, Portfolio Manager, Antero Peak Group
“Only the Paranoid Survive”
By Andrew S. Grove (Currency, 1999)

As we were getting off the ground at Artisan in 2017, one of our first investors gave me this book. Andy Grove, the former Intel CEO, was one of the best business management brains of the modern era. Under his leadership, Intel became the world's largest chip maker and one of the world’s most admired companies. In his book, Grove reveals his strategy for a new way to measure the nightmare moment every leader dreads: when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside. Grove underscores his message by examining his own record of success and failure, including how he navigated the reputation-threatening Pentium flaw and how he dealt with the explosive growth of the Internet. Grove famously said, “The single most important resource that we allocate from one day to the next is our own time.” This is something we really take to heart in the Antero Peak Group—the main capacity constraint on an equity analyst or a PM is always his or her time.


MARIA NEGRETE-GRUSON, Portfolio Manager, Artisan Partners Sustainable Emerging Markets Team
“This Earth of Mankind”
By Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Penguin, 1983)

Pramoedya Ananta Toer composed this story orally while in a political prison on Buru island. It was the first in a series of four about Indonesia’s colonial past. The themes of colonial life—discrimination, personal freedom and national independence—are powerful. The book opened my eyes to the long-lasting scars of colonial rule in Indonesia and across other regions of the emerging world. These countries’ pasts have shaped their political, economic, social and environmental choices and will continue to do so. Understanding their journeys is enlightening on both a human and investor level.


BEINI ZHOU, Co-Portfolio Manager, Artisan Partners International Value Team
“Daring to Succeed: How Alain Bouchard Built the Couche-Tard & Circle K Convenience Store Empire”
By Guy Gendron (Juniper, 2016)

I finally got around to reading this book early this year, prompted by Couche-Tarde’s audacious, and ultimately rejected, bid for French retail giant Carrefour. Looking back in time inevitably has an element of hindsight bias, but this book does a great job of showing how the journey of any successful entrepreneurial venture—especially one lasting this long—is inherently messy, noisy and chaotic. The chaos and noise are why we like to ask management teams (particularly founders) at our introductory meetings to recount the darkest periods of their journey and how they persevered—or the toughest decisions they’ve made and why. Their answers are often more revealing than the company’s financials.

The changes Couche-Tard faced—such as Canada deregulating supermarket and retail operating hours that allowed stores to match convenience store hours—made me think about how to decipher short-term noise from the initial, faint signals of oncoming structural change, and how to respond.

But my biggest takeaway from the book is how much culture matters—it is often the only leading indicator of success through the chaos and noise. I think many entrepreneurs around the world in this industry have been as hard-working and ambitious as Alain Bouchard, but I don’t think any have been as successful. Why? An exact answer is hard to pin down, but I believe it comes down to Bouchard instilling a culture that embraces decentralized organization, trust and empowerment.


TIFFANY HSIAO, Portfolio Manager, Artisan China Post Venture Strategy
“Country Driving”
By Peter Hessler (Harper Perennial, 2011)

Journalist Peter Hessler builds a bridge between US and Chinese culture through this warm, insightful and very funny travel memoir. Notably, Hessler visits the vast interior of China, offering firsthand reporting of life in the third-, fourth- and fifth-tier cities now emerging as the new epicenters of consumer spending power in China. For investors who want to learn more about life in China, Hessler’s book provides an approachable entry point into the stunning and rapid economic transformation that continue to boost the country’s economic growth today. Particularly engaging is Hessler’s account of learning to drive in China, where few drivers use traffic signals but everyone manages to reach their destinations. Hessler brings a sense of curiosity and wonder to his travels, writing with wit, warmth and deep emotional intelligence.


DEREK DE PETRA, Head of International Trading
“Flash Boys”
By Michael Lewis (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014)

A great Michael Lewis book about how the stock market has evolved into a race for speed. It becomes an arms race with billions at stake. Firms like Artisan have to understand market structure and its participants’ behavior in order to achieve best execution and good outcomes for our clients.

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