Book Summary: Buffett

Book: Buffett

Author: Roger Lowenstein

The first book that I read on Buffett was Snowball, which was very interesting as a biography but at the time, I did not find it useful as an investor. This book, though, delivers on that front, without inundating the reader with minute details about Buffett’s life, and focuses more on his business life. The book does not have any specific chapters (investment-wise), but you’ll find gems strewn across the pages. Below are a few of them –

  • According to Buffett, managers tend to confuse conservative (reasonably priced) portfolios with one that is merely conventional. The fact that managers have very similar holdings is not surprising to any of us, but what is interesting is the way the conclusion is presented. They do they because they’re being “safe”, but “safe” on an emotional level is something that people agree with which is the consensus.
  • This one will sound very familiar to everyone who has read the news over the past 2-3 years. Buffett is described in the book as unwilling to wait for “more stable and anticipatable times” to make calls, because the future is never clear.

It is also very interesting to learn about people Buffett looked for inspiration and recommended (sans the obvious culprits, Graham and Munger)

  • John Maynard Keynes – Buffett read Keynes a lot for insight in the markets. Next time I am in London, I am headed to the Guildhall to read his speeches to the Mutual Life Assurance Society (does not appear to be available publicly).
  • Philip Fisher – he’s the author of the bestseller Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, another book on my wish list.
  • Bill Ruane, who ran the Sequoia fund (incidentally, for returns and not AUM) and was the only person Buffett ever recommended to people during the time he closed his partnership
  • Walter Schloss, who ran his investment firm all by himself

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