Reading the books every investor should read, so you don’t have to. Host, Mike Hanson, Senior Vice President of Research at Fisher Investments (and chronic bibliophile) cuts through today’s information deluge to talk with authors from a variety of fields about their most influential books. From artificial intelligence with Melanie Mitchell, to behavioral finance with Meir Statman; Mike breaks down complicated concepts that impact the choices investors make, to help every investor become a well-read investor.
Hello everyone today is June 23rd 20-21 and welcome to another edition of the Well-Read Investor, the podcast that profits your mind and your money. I’m your host Mike Hanson.
We have a real treat today—someone perfect for this program. Our guest is Aaron Anderson. He’s the author of two investment books, but much more importantly to me he is a fellow member of the Investment Policy Committee here at Fisher Investments, a longtime colleague of mine, and one of the sharpest investment minds I’ve known.
We talk about his outlook for markets, books, and the importance of communication in investing. Aaron doesn’t just write well, he’s an accomplished speaker, and great at creating compelling and easy to understand visual presentations. He fits the right information and message to his audience, and can explain the abstract and complex concepts as effectively to novices as to experts. You can’t just be a good investor to be very successful in this industry—you have to articulate and constantly tell your clients what you’re up to and why. Communication is the secret sauce that creates lasting client relationships—which is essential for great investing strategies to reach their long-term goals.
A little more about Aaron. He’s been with Fisher Investments since 2005 and currently serves as Senior Vice President of Research and has been on the firm’s five-member Investment Policy Committee (IPC) since 2011. You’ll see him regularly on major financial TV networks like CNBC and publications like The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. He’s written two investing books, and I’ll highlight here his excellent, Own the World: How Smart Investors Create Global Portfolios—which explains how anyone can globally diversify their portfolio for better and smoother returns over their time horizon. I’d also note that Aaron has over the years become something of an expert in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portfolio management. And with his guidance in that area, along with our tremendous Research and Institutional group, Fisher has won several awards and recognitions for ESG portfolio management. Aaron tells us a lot more about his biography in the interview, so I’ll save those details.
Enjoy this one. This is a great market mind in addition to communicator. Here’s Aaron Anderson.
Today we have Eisner award-winning comics artist, author, and educator, Nick Sousanis in to talk about his book, Unflattening.
How to explain this strange book? Well, written and drawn entirely as a comic book, Unflattening is an experiment in visual thinking using graphic art to illustrate the ways we construct knowledge. Weaving together diverse ways of seeing drawn from science, philosophy, art, literature, and mythology, the book uses the collage-like capacity of comics to show that perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points. Full of graphic innovation, Unflattening is meant to counteract the type of narrow, rigid thinking that Nick calls “flatness.”
Today we have award-winning scientist, author, educator, and film producer Sean B. Carroll with us to talk about the role of chance in biological life with his newest book, A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You.
Randomness and chance of course play a role in just about everything, and especially investments. But there’s wide debate about just how much of life and market results are defined by randomness and how much of those are truly within our control. The greatest scientists and philosophers of our age continue to wrestle with that issue (they always will, of course), and while we won’t solve those deep life mysteries for you here, Sean’s perspective on chance at the foundational level of biology—how randomness affects our very DNA—will make you think differently. This is a wide-ranging discussion about dinosaurs, viruses, DNA mutation, and so much else. Investors should pay close attention—while imperfect, analogies of markets to biological systems are well worth considering.
Today we’re talking history—a period of history most, even universities, gloss over: The period in the West commencing after the fall of the Roman Empire and leading up, more or less, to the Renaissance: The Dark Ages. Or should I say Light Ages?
We’ve got historian Seb Falk to tell us why the Dark Ages is a misnomer, and in fact some great innovation and technology occurred in this era, not to mention advancements in science. Seb’s book, The Light Ages, is a wide-ranging history of medieval science, told through the life of one extraordinary monk, John of Westwyk. The book follows the twists and turns of John's life as a yeoman and novice, scholar and exile, crusader and astronomer—it’s an engaging story and I picked up much the process. You might even think of Westwyk’s spirit as similar to the aspiring stock analyst, questing for the secrets of market behavior.
Seb teaches medieval history and the history of science at Cambridge University, and specializes in astronomy, navigation and mathematics from their ancient origins to modern developments. And it’s this technological part of things I found most interesting—Seb calls the Astrolabe the “smartphone” of its era, as it allowed practitioners to know the date and time from anywhere, was aesthetically designed and served as a symbol of status (so much like today’s iphones). And it’s got a literary history—Geoffrey Chaucer, of Canterbury Tales fame, himself wrote a treatise on how to use one. Seb’s book prompted me to buy an astrolabe (in fact you can get a good one for less than 50 dollars on Amazon), and I’m in the midst of learning to use it.
But so much more than that—advances in astronomy, mathematics, and much else happened in the “Light” Ages, and serves as a reminder that today’s technology will one day, too, be outmoded and apparently barbaric. Investors should take note, developments in how we measure the world will change how we see it, and with so much data today you can see the parallels between how our beliefs are shaped by what we can measure.
Enjoy this one—Seb is a gifted speaker, writer, and storyteller, and we had a lot of fun talking. And make sure to follow us on social media on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
This week we have Arnold Kling on the show to discuss his book The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides. Now in its third edition, it’s a short little guide to navigating ideology and tribalism in today’s politics.
Politics is of tremendous importance to investors—it defines the rules by which we operate, individual and company alike. So we must pay attention to politics as it has meaningful impacts to entire economic systems let alone individual industries. But when it comes to how markets move we have to leave ideology at the door. Markets do well and poorly through time with Republicans and Democrats alike in power; favoring one side or the other leads to investing mistakes. What matters ultimately is what politicians do, not what they say. There’s always tons of talk about grand ideas and huge programs—but the truth is they rarely come to fruition in the way lofty rhetoric envisions on both sides. Even more, politics is a global issue for investors, not just a US one. So thinking critically about not just your own ideology, whatever that might be, but out the nature of these conflicts in general is of great usefulness.
Ok, we’re on Spring Break! We’ll take a couple weeks off and come back to you in May with more challenging and exciting authors to make you a well-read investor. Until then, we wish you a wonderful and healthy spring, and as always, may all your reading profit your mind and your money. Take care.
This week we’re discussing Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World, with authors and professors Deirdre McCloskey and Art Carden.
Since we started the podcast now more than a year ago, we’ve had esteemed guests from a variety of fields, but having Diedre McCloskey on is special. In my humble opinion, she’s one of the best living economic historians, and a tremendous writer whose led a fascinating life. The book we’re discussing today is an accessible, highly literary, and often humorous entry into her perspectives—a sort of cheat sheet version of her essential work she calls the Bourgeois Trilogy, a magisterial and highly literary set of three books aiming to explain human freedom as the driving catalyst for accelerating world prosperity in the era commencing with the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and beyond. And the addition of Professor Art Carden to this mix is also a treat—both are witty, amazingly well read, and forceful in their views, which can be at times controversial but always inviting of other perspectives.
And on that note, if you like what you’re hearing make sure to follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
We spoke with comedy writing legend Gene Perret about how comedy works, and a lifetime spent writing jokes for the likes of Bob Hope, Carrol Burnet and Phyllus Diller, to name just a few. But he spent a significant portion of his career writing books and teaching about comedy as well. He’s on today to speak about his book, The New Comedy Writing Step by Step. Which is still considered by many to be a standard textbook for comedy writing. He’s earned three Emmy Awards for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. He wrote for Bob Hope from 1969 until the performer’s retirement, serving the last 15 years as his head writer. Gene’s television career includes producing Welcome Back, Kotter, Three’s Company, and The Tim Conway Show. The list goes on: Mama’s Family, All in the Family, Laugh-In, and many others.
If you like what you’re hearing make sure to follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
Private Investigator and author Tyler Maroney, and host of the Well-Read Investor, Mike Hanson discuss what investors can learn from The Modern Detective.
Oscar nominated screenwriter Randall Wallace and host, Mike Hanson, discuss building the character to leads to a Braveheart Life.