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Dear Mr. Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street
 
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Dear Mr. Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street [Format Kindle]

Janet M. Tavakoli

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

Altogether this book is an excellent read, loaded with information about the goings–on in the financial sector in the US till as recently as September 2008. The is informal, almost like a conversation in a lounge bar, racy, laced with wit and when it comments on leading actors in the drama, dipped in vitriol. Tavakoli is a name we will be hearing about frequently in the near future. ( Business Standard ) " Dear Buffett is must reading . . . in a way that only Tavakoli could provide. . . Tavakoli knows her stuff. She knows where the bodies are buried in the complex formulas. . . And, almost as a bonus, we get Buffett′s views and insights into his derivatives trading. There′s nothing more you could ask for in a financial book in this day and age of financial derivatives meltdown." ( Economic Policy Journal ) "...full of anecdotes, details and character sketches that add depth...she knows her stuff, has strong opinions and turns a colourful quote." ( Financial Times , February 21st 2009) "A clear and pacy run through the multitude of sins and sinners in the modern financial world. . . full of anecdotes, details and character sketches that add depth and colour to even the best known episodes of the past two years. [Tavakoli] also covers events only a few years before the current crisis that should have been big warning signs. The correspondence between Buffett and Tavakoli over the past three years reinforced her existing views on the dangers of complex finance. And with Buffett′s blessing, this book will find a ready–made fan base with little marketing effort. . . Tavakoli makes for an attractive pundit – she knows her stuff, has strong opinions and turns a colourful quote. . . There is a healthy dose of "I told you so" about this volume – but, to be fair, Tavakoli is one of the few who did." ( Financial Times ) "[Tavakoli has] been railing against emperors wearing no clothes in the credit derivatives markets forever. If only people had listened." ( AndrewTobias.com ) "Why is this not an ordinary Buffett book? Because it concerns how an expert on derivatives came to know Mr. Buffett, and how the current crises were seen in advance by both of them. This book’s greatest strength comes from its ability to explain the messes we are currently in. No solutions, mind you, and Mr. Buffett ain’t handing out any of those either, but understanding how we got to where we are is of value, and Janet Tavakoli is nothing if not a good writer on those points. There is a second theme — how a derivatives expert came to appreciate value investing. After all, when short term investing is focused on a variety of arbitrage situations, why not think long, and look for long term capital appreciation? I heartily recommend this book. One reading this will understand our current crisis very well, and will gain in his understanding of how our markets work. That said, the virtues of the book do not come from Mr. Buffett, but from one who intelligently admires his views on derivatives and other matters." ( The Aleph Blog ) ‘Dear Mr Buffett’ is, like its author, strongly, often harshly, and, more than rarely, tartly, opinionated. The attitude is, however, well–supported by the facts; should anyone ever display the slightest interest in criminalizing the criminals who led us down this path, a prosecutor could do worse than ordering up copies for the grand jury. One thing the world is not going to run out any time soon is books on subprime credit–turned–global financial meltdown. But it’s doubtful that many, or any, will so closely match the ripping yarn of financial upset with concepts that any — and perhaps every — investor can apply to their own financial security. This book was already at the printer when the Madoff Maelstrom broke, but it’s highly doubtful that anybody who absorbs the message of ‘Dear Mr Buffett’ will ever need confront that kind of mayhem. ( Seeking Alpha, Greg Newton ) Janet Tavakoli’s Dear Mr. Buffett  is an unusual amalgam of a simple, personal story and a complex, public one…The promise of this tantalizing morsel will draw buyers in. But readers will find much more than another book on Warren Buffett…Tavakoli’s book chronicles the words and deeds of people who dealt in derivatives without knowing – and often without caring – what that relationship was. Some will call her book a morality tale. I call it a rationality tale. ( Seeking Alpha, Geoff Gannon ) Ms. Tavakoli uses her letters and relationship with Warren Buffett as an homage to Buffett′s ability to distill the basic essence of complex matters into simple facts of money and value…For Dear Mr. Buffett, she has opted for a simple approach to tell the tale of actors gone bad and trust abused at many levels. This book is an accessible popularization of the issues, and as such no heavy securitization math etc. to deal with. I agree with this approach as the story needs to get out to as many as possible. ( Seeking Alpha, Nick Gogerty ) ". . . isn′t yet another book about Buffett′s career. Rather it′s Tavakoli′s withering critique of just about anyone who had anything to do with inflating the housing bubble. . . Tavakoli contrasts that behavior with the way Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway. . . an excellent summary of the factors that led to the historic boom and bust. . . easy to read at 224 pages. . . overall a good book that offers excellent insight into the recent fiasco." ( The Free Lance–Star ) "If you want a primer into just how out of control the markets were...then this is an ideal starting point." ( TheBookBag.co.uk, May 29th 2009 ) "An intelligent analyst whose command of the arcane world of securitization mixed with a brutally honest analytical framework makes it a pleasure to hear and read her work." ( Asia Times Online ) "[This] book is so good, I’m on my second reading of it. That’s how good it is." (Max Keiser, "On the Edge with Max Keiser) "Zero Hedge joins in endorsing Mr. Keiser′s glowing recommendation of . . . " " Dear Mr. Buffett: What An Investor Learns 1,269 Miles From Wall Street " a must read for anyone who wishes to get a deep understanding of the real severity of America′s economic debacle. . . “ (Zero Hedge)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Janet Tavakoli takes you into the world of Warren Buffett by way of the recent mortgage meltdown. In correspondence and discussion with him over 2 years, they both saw the writing on the wall, made clear by the implosion of Bear Stearns. Tavakoli, in clear and engaging prose, explains how the credit mess happened beginning with the mortgage lending Ponzi schemes funded by investment banks, the Fed bailout and its impact on the dollar. Through her narrative, we hear from Warren Buffett and learn how his enduring principles caused him to see the mess that was coming well in advance and kept him and his investors well out of the way.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 687 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 308 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 047040678X
  • Editeur : Wiley; Édition : 1 (6 janvier 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B001QAP32S
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  48 commentaires
53 internautes sur 58 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Sub-Prime Crisis: The Good, The Bad, and The Guilty 18 avril 2009
Par Dynamic Duo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Janet Tavakoli, a well-known expert in the world of credit derivatives and structured products (yes, those toxic assets) has written a remarkably entertaining and insightful book in which she combines Mr. Buffett's wisdom and advice with her own views about the credit crisis. Tavakoli's previous books, all about highly technical topics, allowed her to show only one set of skills, albeit an important one: her ability to explain technical issues in an accessible manner. In Mr. Buffett, however, a book for the general public that contains no formulas or equations, she demonstrates that she can write not only with clarity but with wit. Her prose is agile and precise, and her words punch her victims always fatally, and not once, but just in case, many times. Hints of this refreshing style were somehow present, although not totally in the open, in her previous book (Structured Finance & Collateralized Debt Obligations). Despite the subject matter she managed to include comments about triboluminescense, sexual positions, and the Nogorno-Karabakh dispute while making reference to characters as diverse as Michael Moore, Richard Feynman, Shakespeare and Paul Marcinkus.

Mr. Buffett started with an invitation by The Sage of Omaha to Tavakoli in June 2005 ("Be sure to stop by if you are ever in Omaha and want to talk credit derivatives") after she had mailed him a copy of her latest derivatives book. Knowing that she would never have any reason to be near Omaha, Tavakoli volunteered a few days to visit. Shortly thereafter, she flew from Chicago (where she lives) to have lunch with Mr. Buffett in a place "with no décor but good food." That started a dialogue between the two of them (through subsequent phone calls, e-mails, and letters) that seems to be still going on.

In a sense, Tavakoli's book is more about the current crisis rather than Mr. Buffett, although there is enough about him to satisfy the Buffett-curious reader. He comes across as a deceptively affable man who advises her not to neglect her love life, enjoys and values gossiping, reads financial reports the way a teenager reads Playboy, and believes there is no difference between value and growth stocks. This came as personal relief because I always failed to see the difference between them no matter how hard all the mutual funds prospects I have seen try to make that point. On a more serious note, Mr. Buffett seems not to take the Efficient Market Theory (or dogma?) too seriously. Not a surprise if you think that his track record as investor is a living proof of the fallacy of the theory. More important, Buffett reminds us of the danger of leverage: anyone can show great investment returns with leverage (inflated revenues, he calls them). It is when things go the other way, and leverage magnifies the mistakes, that you can really see who has been swimming naked.

But the backbone of the book (and its most interesting aspect) is the critique and analysis of the current financial crisis that Tavakoli intertwines cleverly within her own dialogue with Mr. Buffett. She makes a convincing case that at the root of the present crisis there was a bad combination of dishonest executives and bankers under the surveillance of incompetent, and probably equally dishonest, regulators.

For example, the chapter about the backdating of stock options scandal, although not strictly related to the credit crisis, makes you wonder about the character of the people running corporate America: in the 2006-2007 timeframe more than 120 U.S. companies were under investigation for accounting irregularities; 85 ended up amending their earning statements. She is very critical of the role played by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which invoked an obscure 1862 provision to undermine the states' ability to police predatory lending. This decision, she believes, had a very negative effect on mortgage origination standards and their subsequent re-packaging by investment bankers. Additionally, she castigates the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for failing to oversee the investment banks. And when it comes to the rating agencies, which blessed some of these securitizations with AAA ("very safe") ratings, she employs the term "financial astrology". Enough said! Ironically, Mr. Buffett, who through its investment company (Berkshire Hathaway) owns almost 20% of Moody's stock, has admitted to her that this is one investment he is not proud of.

Tavakoli also paints a disturbing picture when she describes the collapse of two Bear Stearns investment funds (she received a "thinly veiled threat" by the fund manager after she was quoted in the press saying something he did not like); when she explains how the well-connected Carlyle group got help from the Fed while a less plugged-in fund, Peloton, was let go; and when she shows that her initial assessment of AIG, Merrill, and Citigroup losses (all made in late 2007 and early 2008 and in contradiction with the information released by those companies at the time) was ultimately right on the money. The list of financial and ethical shenanigans is long and compelling, full of juicy anecdotes, and supported by solid data and well-articulated reasoning. Although is fun reading about these issues it is quite depressing to think about them: you get the sense that the story is more in tune with the doings of a corrupt military dictatorship in a third world country rather than the oldest democracy in the world.

Much has been said about the acronyms used to describe the financial instruments involved in this crisis: CDOs, SIVs, CPDOs, ABS, MBS, CDS, ABCP, etc. Ironically, the list of government entities which, in her view, have something to apologize for is almost as long: SEC, FED, OCC, FDIC, FHFA, OTC, OFHEO, etc. To what extent these regulatory entities, which sometimes overlap, but also leave voids, will survive in a global market is something to ponder. The case for one regulatory body with wide international authority is becoming stronger as the case for state-level bodies become more dubious. Although Tavakoli does not make these two points explicitly, one wonders.

Some readers might feel turn off by a few Warren-and-I type of statements that seem a bit self-serving. And a case can be made that perhaps many investors deserved what they got because in their greedy quest for unreasonable returns they overlooked basic principles of prudence --a point that does not come across very strongly in the book. Lastly, Chapter 13 (The Fogs of War, Religion and Politics), a very interesting chapter in its own right, is probably better suited to be dealt with in a separate (next?) book. That said, these are minor sins in an otherwise excellent book.

The following paragraph, which appears close to the end of the book, summarizes the main thesis,
"Washington is supposed to provide a strong national defense; but we were attacked from within our borders-sometimes by those charged to protect us. Washington failed in one of its more important duties, Washington failed to protect our money."

Further down she adds, "Homeland security requires a secure homeland currency." I doubt that anyone would be left indifferent by these provocative, but well-argued, points.

There is no free lunch they say, at least according to most economists. And certainly lunch with Mr. Buffett is far from free ($ 2.11 million, according to eBay, June, 2008). Clearly, Tavakoli made a good decision when she accepted Mr. Buffett's lunch invitation. However, for the rest of us, who are unable to pony up the two million or unlikely to get invited by the great investor, this book is a very good substitute.
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Clear, Accessible, and Witty 13 janvier 2009
Par Libby Fischer Hellmann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I am not a finance professional, and my understanding of financial markets, especially derivatives, is basic, but I was riveted by DEAR MR BUFFETT. Much of it is because of Ms. Tavakoli's writing style: clear, accessible, and witty. Where definitions are needed, she supplies them, and her documentation is suburb. Despite the complexity of her topic, it was an easy read. In fact, she makes such a persuasive case that I came away from the book wondering why more experts didn't see the meltdown coming. At the same time, it was reassuring to know that Mr. Buffett's (and Ms. Tavakoli's) financial philosophy, ie not buying something unless you can pay for it, investing with caution, has prevailed. I would recommend this book to any investor -- large or small -- who's seeking direction for the future.
23 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 What a strange book! 2 avril 2009
Par Houman Tamaddon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
It is clear that Ms Tavakoli is a very bright and knowledgeable author, but it takes more than that to write a good book. While I enjoyed reading many parts of the book, I had two main problems with the it.

First, it was unclear to me what the author's central point was. There was a smattering of financial and investment information, but then at other times she drifts and starts discussing politics and the Middle East. Great investors must consider and digest diverse facts and information, but Tavakoli left me scratching my head as to where she was going. Her discussion on various derivatives mixed with other seemingly random investment wisdom was poorly organized. I could not figure out what her central point was.

Second, the author's tone is too self-congratulatory. She tries way too hard to associate herself with Warren Buffett (a great investor and brilliant thinker) as evidenced by the unusual book title and numerous references to her professional relationship with Buffett. Furthermore, she tries to convey to readers that she saw the financial crisis coming and quotes herself from her previous appearances on TV and her own writings. While I have little doubt that Tavakoli is very intelligent, her self-promoting behavior does not do her justice. She appears to be more concerned with promoting herself than with delivering value to her readers.

Besides being an outstanding investor, Buffett is also a master at human relations and understanding people. Many of Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger's book recommendations have to do with human psychology. Perhaps this trait has contributed to their business success as much as their financial acumen. It is clear that the author, like thousands of other people, admires Buffett greatly. Perhaps a look into some of those other non-financial traits would have helped her deliver a better book.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Unfortunate Choice of Title, Book is Actually a Great Commentary on Current Financial Crisis 5 août 2009
Par Knowledge Seeker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Just finished reading this book after borrowing it from my public library from the Buffett section. What a fantastic, opinionated, cynical, but always insightful, honest and intellectual commentary on the current financial crisis... Having read tons of books on current economic conditions (some good ones worth reading more than once include "Financial Shock 360", "Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown", "More Mortgage Meltdown"...) I'd highly recommend this book as a must-read as well.

unfortunate choice of title might lead people (like it did me) to think this is primarily a book about Mr. Buffett and his investing techniques (and there are a ton of such books out there). However, the book is actually a very incisive commentary on how the current crisis came to be, and how various stakeholders - banks, regulators, rating agencies, investors, fed, etc. have been reacting to it. Ms. Tavakoli is an expert on financial instruments such as CDOs that have played a primary role in the current crisis via their misuse, and at some point she had established an acquaintance with Mr. Buffett. Her reference to Buffett in the title comes from the fact that in her commentary, she sprinkles wisdom about what a sensible, ethical person would do in situations she is discussing, and who better than Mr. Buffett to use as an example... and surprisingly, you end up appreciating the greatness of Mr. Buffett also more along the way, typically more than most of the run of the mill Buffett books. And Ms. Tavakoli has no sacred cows, when I was reading about her comments on Bill Gross, and Vikram Pandit for example, and Jamie Dimon and BofA's Lewis, I was just shaking my head in bemusement...

one negative aspect is, Ms. Tavakoli associates herself with Mr. Buffett very frequently in her text, such as, "Buffett and I would have done this", and "Buffett and I would have done that", or "he/she thought like Buffett and me" etc. I could say similar things such as "Obama and I thought this" and "Obama and I thought that", while President Obama couldn't care less. If you can live through this annoying aspect especially in the first 2-3 chapters, Ms. Tavakoli wins you over with her intellect and witticisms, and by the end of the book, it does seem clear that Mr. Buffett has become a decent acquaintance of the author, and you'd forgive Ms. Tavakoli for being so enamored of him.

Once again, I highly recommend this book. I've ordered her other (technical) book on CDOs from Amazon, and will be ordering this book as well, for a repeat reading and permanent place in my personal library.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 4.5 stars-Recessions/Depressions follow Speculative Bubbles like night follows day 21 janvier 2009
Par Michael Emmett Brady - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Tavakoli has written an interesting book that is a valuable contribution to the current literature on the collapse of the twin real estate and stock market bubbles in 2007-2008.She does an excellent job in discussing the basic speculative nature of securitization,financial derivatives, collateralized debt obligations,credit-default swaps,sub prime mortgage backed bonds,etc.Her demonstration that Warren Buffett clearly saw the immense dangers of securitization and financial derivative use engaged in en masse by thousands of unregulated hedge funds is accurate.She is one hundred percent correct in showing that Buffett understands that the Efficient Market Hypothesis(EMH),that is taught to all MBA students in finance and Ph.D candidates in economics, is equivalent to teaching them the complex ,artificially constructed ,a priori based ,Ptolomaic system of astronomy.The basic claim of the EMH is that there are no bubbles. There is not a shred of historical or statistical support for EMH,which proclaims that the time series data for price changes in financial markets is normally distributed(or log normal). All the evidence shows that the Cauchy distribution ,and not the Normal distribution,fits the data by far the best. Again,it was Keynes who first demonstrated that the EMH is false under conditions of uncertainty or ambiguity.

My major criticism is that there is no historical background given the reader about world class philosophers and thinkers from the past who have observed the causal connections that exist between banker induced and sponsored speculation and the guaranteed economic downturn that inevitably occurs sooner or later.Adam Smith's 80 page discussion in the Wealth of Nations (1776) about the importance of making sure that the central bank prevents private commercial banks from making loans to speculators culminates in Smith's conclusion that allowing the banks to lend to projectors(Keynes's speculators and rentiers),prodigals,and imprudent risk takers leads to the destruction and waste of the depositors' savings .Smith was well aware of the damage that resulted from the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles that hit nearly simultaneously in 1719-1721.What is happening today is just the latest confirmation of the causal connection between private banker financed and induced speculation and economic hardtimes.

Tavakoli is correct that " Warren advocates diversifying only into assets you understand well "(p.16-17).However,this is very similar to J M Keynes's view that you concentrate your investments only in companies that you have a great deal of supporting evidence and knowledge about their business [This ,of course,is Keynes's application of his " weight of the evidence " criteria presented in detailed form in chapter 26 of the A Treatise on Probability(1921)] .Buffett has long made it clear that he is a follower of Keynes's approach.There is a one liner from Keynes on p.55. A full understanding of Buffett requires an understanding of Keynes.This is missing in the book.

Tavakoli is correct that the collapse of both bubbles in 2007-2008 is not a Black Swan. It can be argued,however, that it does fall under the rubric of Mandelbrot's Grey Swan concept once it is realized that such outcomes,while supposedly extremely rare ,when based on the incorrect application of the normal distribution,are 100-1000 times more likely to occur if thick and fat tailed distributions are correctly used.An additional minor criticism is that she has ignored that both Smith and Keynes had correctly concluded that banker induced and financed speculation leads to an inevitable collapse in the real economy.This has been repeatedly,if infrequently, going on for 400-500 years worldwide.

One can conclude that an investor can learn much from reading Buffett,Smith,and Keynes.
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