Morenz Group’s Top Five Books for 2020

As the holiday season makes way for a new year, we often hear this famous quote by Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epic of belief, it was the epic of incredulity …” Heading into a new decade, these words still ring true for many.

More than 160 years after these words were written, we at Morenz Group observe with keen interest our current age of uncertainty; there’s complexity and unease in the financial markets, as well as critical political ideologies waxing and waning both at home and abroad.  It’s a lot to stay on top of, and we appreciate an active exchange of ideas and opportunities.

In that vein, we also think that there are universal themes which always ring true and thereby help us, and you, deal with times of volatility and uncertainty.  Here are 5 books from the recent past which we believe give a unique perspective on managing a complicated world. We hope you enjoy these reads and continue to share your thoughts with us!

Morenz Group’s Top Five Books for 2020

1. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

This book by renowned thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb urges us not to fear chaos but to push into it instead. Taleb believes that uncertainty is a given and in fact, desirable. He firmly states his belief that embracing disorder ensures that we not only survive … but also thrive.

2. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

Who doesn’t love maps … whether they be tattered parchment or the latest satellite shots on Google? Here author Tim Marshall examines crucial world regions, suggesting that geography sets the foundation of the political and social dynamics of the day, exposes a nation’s strengths and weaknesses and predicts world events. In short, while ideologies come and go, seas and mountains generally do not.

3. Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

This book chronicles the endeavors of our nation’s most interesting tinkerers, builders, bargainers and betters.  Author Bhu Srinivasan likens the United States to one big construction zone, building and (creatively) destroying in an endlessly volatile cycle. Srinivasan, who emigrated to the U.S. from India when he was 8 writes, “… the ease with which an idea, a blank canvas, could turn into something confirmed my central belief about opportunity in America.” From Carnegie to Gates, from the invention of the sneaker to the iPad, the author posits that the spirit of innovation is as old as America itself and sustains a most treasured and unique model of capitalism.

4. The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for The Thoughtful Investor

Warren Buffet had this to say, “This is that rarity, a useful book.”  Cofounder and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management Howard Marks gives tested advice to both amateur and seasoned investors. This book is great for those looking to develop an investment philosophy and hone their investing strategies. Marks gives advice on things like price-value relationship, patient opportunism and defensive investing.  He also loves a contrarian.

5. Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You

According to author and pastor John F. MacArthur, Jr., the 12 apostles Jesus chose to carry forth his ministry were surprisingly ordinary men. They weren’t educated, highly-skilled or gifted. They weren’t orators or theologians. In fact, the group members, which included a zealot, a tax collector and a number of fishermen, were outcasts from the religious and intellectual establishment of the time. As the author states, they were also prone to mistakes, bad attitudes and bitter failure. Yet, eleven of the twelve became the first generation of gospel preachers.  So, if you feel ordinary, don’t.  Any one of us can change the world.

Happy New Year from Morenz Group!