What we're reading
Our favorites from a wide variety of sources
Our favorites from a wide variety of sources
When economist and financial educator Peter Bernstein passed away in 2009, it left a big gap in the lineup of thoughtful writers who were thoroughly familiar with the twists and turns and nuances of investing. Bernstein’s list of published works is long and varied, but three of his books are standouts, and form the basis of any good reference library on finance, economics and investing.
Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street (Maxwell Macmillan Press, 1992) is just good storytelling in the complimentary historical sense, and an excellent read for professional or lay investor. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (John Wiley & Sons, 1996) is perhaps his most well-known book. It traces the ancient roots and evolution of risk in finance, and documents how investors over the centuries have thought about and managed uncertainty and volatility. It is a demanding book, but the last chapters are essential reading for an understanding of the current modern landscape of hedging and central bank intervention. The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession (John Wiley & Sons, 2000) is one of the finest and most clearly written primers about the glittering metal. It is praiseworthy for its lack of tangents. It avoids so much of the bias either for or against the metal as an investment and store of wealth that is frequently present in other histories.
Peter Bernstein’s books are gems – his writing was the very best found in the industry. He had the gift of combining clarity with excitement about his subject matter. His scholarship is sorely missed. We recommend these three works without reservation.
By Pete Hartman
(September 9, 2016)
In his book, Investing: The Last Liberal Art (Texere Publishing, 2002) Robert Hagstrom inspires investors to think about approaching financial opportunities in a more complex way than traditionally found. While it remains true that investing requires a working knowledge of a wide array of technical skills and tools, the insights those methods provide is limited. Hagstrom encourages investors to think about markets and potential investments more in terms of a latticework, constructed of both quantitative and measurable elements; and those with more complexity and subtlety. Investors who approach markets with a background in the humanities, he believes, more easily recognize opportunities that may elude those who approach them with the exactness that can only be measured immediately in dollars and cents.
At Nottingham we believe in both, that is, the utilization of the technical tools and skills, as well as the insights the humanities offer. Consequently, on our Bookshelf section, we will begin a recommended list of investment texts and reference volumes we would term, “The Essentials.” Those will be classic writings about finance that any informed investors would want to read. Look for new suggested titles you might explore and our thoughts on these evergreens that will help build your technical skill set.
But ultimately investing is about human behavior and human nature. While the technical reservoir is filled easily through reading and all manner of business valuation courses of study, the more general humanities often get short shrift. We believe we can help address this oversight, and art is as good a place to start as any. So as a regular part of our social media posting on the website, Facebook and other outlets, we will try to make you aware of events and exhibitions that not only will you find enjoyable, we believe will also add to your perception of the human condition and the opportunities for investing that it might allow.
And why might art specifically, and the liberal arts generally, assist in investment decision making?
“The Romans considered the liberal arts those pursuits worthy of anyone freely living in a civil society. Our favorite Roman Stoic, Seneca, had sharp words for those concerned only with activities that focused exclusively on making money. In his letters- number 88- he writes, “I have no respect for any study whatsoever if its end is the making of money. Such studies are to me unworthy ones…and are only of value in so far as they may develop the mind without occupying it for long.” He goes on to say about those very pursuits, “They are our apprenticeship, not our real work.”
So what is our real work? Again, from Seneca, “The pursuit of wisdom- Its high ideals, its steadfastness and spirit make all other studies puerile and puny in comparison.” What’s better than a nearby museum or art gallery to begin the pursuit of wisdom? Within a two-hour drive of our headquarters in Rocky Mount, an incredible schedule of events and exhibitions present themselves. We will post up our favorites and encourage you to seek them out.
Investing + Liberal Arts: A winning combination!
Richard Sennett has written extensively on the role of craftsmanship in the modern world. His book by the same name, The Craftsman, has much to say about work and ethical values. His focus is on an intriguing idea found less and less frequently in our society today: the human desire to do a job well for its own sake. While many incorrectly believe that the craftsman might only include those who work with their hands, Sennett’s scope is far broader. He believes the computer programmer, the physician, a parent or the “everyman” citizen all can share the impulse to produce fine work – just because they can.
At Nottingham, we value the craftsman mindset.
(Yale University Press: 2008)
Do you question the status quo? Like to think outside the box? Have difficulty coloring inside the lines?
We’re kindred spirits. Our practical experience – along with formal training in diverse areas like accounting, technology, finance and the law – provides you with a deep resource for creative thought, design and engineering. Tell us what you have in mind and we’ll explore together the possibilities.Contact Us
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