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The Nature of Value - How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy (Anglais) Relié – 18 juillet 2014

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 11 commentaires
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A terrific book 22 juillet 2014
Par tom brakke - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
I heartily recommend this book. I wrote a review of it after reading the uncorrected proof prior to publication. You can see the entire review here:

My closing paragraph:

"It is both a complex book and a simple one. The ideas are straightforward, but multilayered, deep, and important. This is a book I will re-read, refer to, and think about for years to come."
7 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
You need to be a thinker to enjoy the book 4 août 2014
Par Jackal - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The target audience is private individuals doing their own stock picking for longer term investment. You need to be a thinker to enjoy the book, because there is not much detailed practical advice in the book. However, don't be fooled by the title. There is no deep fundamental discussion of the nature of value in the book. It is ultimately meant as a practical book.

Like in The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What it Means for Business and Society, the author's premise is that the economy is an adaptive system undergoing the same changes as species in the natural environment. Personally, I like the approach in the current book because it is less pretentious. However, it is also less detailed.

The key topic of the book is how to find companies with a competitive advantage. Following Warren Buffett, the author calls it moats, but it is nothing but competitive advantage - taught in all business schools and described in Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, just to mention one 34 year old book. The author has some interesting reflections, but he is also needlessly trying to reinvent the wheel by not building on this literature. This is common in the finance industry. Here is another book doing the same mistake Why Moats Matter: The Morningstar Approach to Stock Investing. In contrast, Greenwald's Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy does build on the academic literature. Have a look at all books if you are serious. Personally, I would go with Greenwald's book if I had to choose. Greenwald is Gogerty minus the biological evolution metaphors and plus more detailed knowledge.

The author is not an academic, but he writes in a "teaching" style. He does not write with an authoritative voice. Instead he refers to other books and tries to weave a pattern of understanding. In contrast, an academic would refer to articles in a more narrow domain and then add some unique content. There are advantages with both approaches, but in this particular case the author pulls it off fairly well. Since he is an outsider, even some academics might find the book's perspective interesting.

UPDATE: I've have some time to reflect and I will lower the rating to two stars. The main reason is that the book is mostly a rehash. I'm almost allergic to people bringing up WalMart, HomeDepot and Cisco as positive examples. Sure these companies had glorious days 10-20 years ago. But it is sloppy to use them as illustrations today. So what I find missing in this book is at least ten recent, interesting examples of the ideas presented in the book. Then there would also be some "skin in the game" for the author.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Microeconomics of complex adaptive systems 4 février 2015
Par investingbythebooks - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
This book wants to be taken seriously – and it should. The ambition is grand and the author is innovative. Nick Gogerty could perhaps easiest be described as a serial entrepreneur within technology and finance. He’s a private strategist working for leading hedge funds, banks and tech firms and he’s an associate of Fertile Mind Technology, investing in technology and clean energy. He has developed hedge fund and quant strategies, been a FX prop trader in London and he has been the chief analyst at the cross-disciplinary research institute Starlab NV/SA. Gogerty’s thesis is that by viewing the economy through the lens of Darwinian natural selection we can better understand how it creates value. By this we as societies can then improve our allocation of human, material and energy resources to the benefit of all humanity.

The concept of coupling economic and biological development is not at all new and visitors of this site have possibly seen us make appreciative references to Santa Fe Institute and Andrew Lo in relation to the area of complex adaptive systems that make exactly this connection. These theories are however often held at a very abstract level. Here, the author looks to the components and niches of the system and how it is built bottom-up - but never falling into the reductionist trap that you can fully understand and predict a complex adaptive system by looking to its parts as the system is created by the interaction between the parts and also is larger then the sum of the parts.

In the first section of six Gogerty discusses the difference between price and value in a way that would feel quite natural for Ben Graham. Part two and three lay the core framework for viewing the economy as driven by natural selection. The parallels to biology’s hierarchy gene, organism, niche and ecology are named ino, organization, cluster and economy. The ino is an information unit of innovation that can aid in value creation. The concept is rather similar to Richard Dawkin’s “meme”. While the purpose of the gene in a biological system is survival and life itself, the purpose of an ino in an economical system is value creation. We use resources to satisfy the human needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy and inos (say, an improved production process, a product feature, an innovative way to motivate staff etc.) compete – and spread - to do this as efficiently as possible. With this purpose in hand the description of the Darwinian economy ties very neatly into prevalent financial theory on how companies create value when investing capital at a higher rate of return than the cost of the invested capital (and how those who don’t will be extinct). The section of clusters is probably the most valuable in the book as it views sector competition in a novel way and this discussion also lands in the third part of the book that describes moats, i.e. barriers to entry for competition. So far the text has become increasingly practical for a fundamental long-term Tom Russo type of value investor and I’m ready to rate it with a 5. However, the following part on the aggregated economy is a disappointment. Instead of taking the logical step from the earlier biological theme and discussing the macro-behaviour of complex adaptive systems, most of the remainder is dedicated to competent but quite ordinary texts on monetary shocks, inflation-deflation etc.

The book is theoretically and philosophically somewhat deep but, save one chapter (that the author suggests the reader could skip – but you really shouldn’t), it is actually very easy to read with plenty of illuminating illustrations. The concept of “price is what you pay and value is what you get” is believe it or not, illustrated by a picture of a goose and a balloon, and it works! Perhaps though, at times there are concepts that are repeated a little too often throughout the book.

In all, the topics Gogerty touches on in this essential book are probably among the most important ones when it comes to developing the understanding of our economic world.

This is a review by
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An extremely valuable analysis of value 29 juillet 2014
Par Brenda Jubin - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
Nick Gogerty sets his book within a by now familiar framework, thanks in large part to the cross-disciplinary work carried out over the past thirty years at the Santa Fe Institute. In its baldest outline, it states that economies are nonlinear complex adaptive systems that can be fruitfully compared to evolving biological ecosystems.

The framework might be familiar, but The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy takes the reader into unexplored and underexplored territory. The book moves seamlessly between theory and practice and adds substantially to our understanding of both.

It might seem obvious that price is not value, but ordinary investors as well as financial modelers tend to forget this. For instance, many asset valuation estimates rely on models like Black-Scholes or the efficient market theory that use flawed inputs such as historical prices. They assume that economic risk is measured by price volatility. (No, says Gogerty, economic risk is “the chance that you permanently lose the capacity to generate or receive future economic value.” [p. 11]) They justify a firm’s stock price using dubious metrics to compare it to a competitor’s stock price. (“If firm X is priced at 120 times revenue, then seemingly similar firm Y must be a bargain when priced at 80 times revenue. This dangerous analytical shortcut—in essence, using a price-based model to compare apples to oranges—was popular during the Internet bubble of 1997-2000. In that case, both the apple and orange turned out to be rotten pieces of fruit. Being less rotten doesn’t make something more edible.” [pp. 12-13])

If investors are inclined to reduce value to price, many economists incorrectly reduce what is inherently an adaptive process to a mechanistic one. Keynes was one of the greatest offenders. He anticipated that within two or three generations the economy would plateau and reach equilibrium, which he described as “bliss.” But, Gogerty argues, “the only economic systems found today that are truly at or close to equilibrium are nearly dead economies. A cow that achieves equilibrium is called a steak, and the economy closest to achieving equilibrium today is probably North Korea.” (pp. 21-22)

Gogerty’s model of the economy as an adaptive, networked system begins with its fundamental building block, the ino (informational unit of innovation). Inos, which are analogous to genes, are expressed as capabilities, giving organizations the potential to deliver value if they are properly nurtured. These inos need not be original; “more often, big ino-enabled chunks of functional knowledge and capabilities are borrowed, shared, and mixed.” (p. 61)

Companies create value by having multiple advantaged capabilities. Gogerty cites the work of The Doblin Group, which identified ten categories of business innovation capabilities, and gives examples of firms that excelled in this regard and those that fell short. He contends that “the more types of unique capabilities a firm’s goods and services offer, the longer it may dominate competitors. To use a biological metaphor, it is one thing to be the fastest frog in the pond. It’s another to be the fastest, healthiest, best-looking, strongest, most fertile, and most metabolically efficient frog in the pond. Ideally, a firm should have long-term advantages in each of the ten innovation capability categories, with each capability impossible to replicate by competitors for the foreseeable future.” (p. 90)

At the next level of the economic hierarchy are clusters, competitive spaces in which firms fight for “the scarce resource of customer value flow.” (p. 102) Gogerty does a masterful job of describing four broad types of clusters (Lollapolooza, cash cow, lottery, and Red Queen) and their life cycles. ETF investors would do well to pay special attention to this section of the book. As Gogerty later explains, “people forget that a sector ETF allocation is actually a bet on the distribution of value capture among competitors in a cluster. Anticipated revenue growth means increased value will flow through the cluster—but does not guarantee sustained profits for any single firm, much less the aggregate cluster of firms. Competition and cluster instability can limit the cluster’s retained profits and the sector’s ability to retain value or build wealth.” (p. 307)

Followers of Warren Buffet know about the value of moats, but Gogerty goes deeper into the weeds and devotes an entire part of the book (three chapters) to this topic.

Finally, Gogerty analyzes the nature of various kinds of economies, those that are investable and those that are better left alone. He also discusses monetary shocks and their implications for the allocator, a term he prefers to ‘investor’.

The Nature of Value is a well-reasoned, thought-provoking book that belongs in the library of every investor, professional and retail, value and growth.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Price is what you charge. Value is what others think it's worth." Warren Buffett 3 septembre 2014
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I was reminded of Buffett's comment while considering Nick Gogerty's assertion that examining value creation through behavioral and systems models "will explain the ebb and flow of capital, energy, resources, knowledge, and value over time." I agree with Gogerty that the term "allocator"" is more appropriate than "investor," given the thrust of his rigorous examination of how and why value creation works...and doesn't. The agents really are those who allocate the given resources.

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, we have a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a few representative examples of the thrust and flavor of Gogerty's style:

"Benjamin Graham correctly stated that, in the short term, the stock market acts like a voting machine, and over the long term, it acts like a value-weighing machine." (Page 7)

"Adaptive, selective processes work the same in economy and ecology. In both cases the process is more nuanced and interesting than naturalist Herbert Spencer's 1864 catch phrase 'survival of the fittest,' which he used to refer to both biological and economic processes, and which for our purposes is quite telling." (25)

"Competitive forces and capabilities do battle in clusters of competition. Clusters are the niches in economic networks. They are the next level of system above organizations in the economic panarchy." (98)

"Ethics are integral to managing moats and attaining success. These ethics include truthfulness about the required return on capital and truthfulness with workers, investors, and customers. Long-term thinking and constantly seeking economic truths are critical advantages for firm survival. Firms with managers who are comfortable operating in opaque or gray areas are not worth the allocator's time or capital." (216)

"To be right. To find and express valued true knowledge. This is the question of scientists, artists, economists, and capital allocators. Every capital allocation is based on the premise that value in the form of capital spent today will return a greater value tomorrow. The complexity associated with the nature of value promises one thing -- that there is no fixed truth or absolute guarantee of wealth, value, or riches, although there are patterns and behaviors in the adaptive network that may recur." (318)

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Gogerty's coverage.

o The Misunderstanding of Price (Pages 5-9)
o The Behavioral Economic Model of Price (11-13)
o Ecology as a Model for Economy (19-23)
o Evolution: Flowing Change (39-44)
o New Capabilities Lead to New Offerings (65-69)
o Experience Curves (78-84)
o Defining Cluster Boundaries (103-108)
o Competitive Balance and Instability (112-122)
o Dominant Design and Enabling Architectures (128-132)
o Red Queen Clusters (147-157)
o Moat Depth, Moat Duration, and Moat Depth x Duration = Moat Value (173-176)
o Financial Clues for Spotting and Tracking Moated Firms (180-187)
o Consumer Belief and Perception Moats (196-204)
o Managing Moated Firms (210-213)
o Levels of Economic Panarchy: Inos, Organizations, Clusters, and the Economy (219-222)
o Inclusive and Exclusive Economies (235-243)
o Inflation's Effects on the Allocator (282-289)

I commend Gogerty on his masterful use of various reader-friendly devices, notably the Summary section at the conclusion of each chapter. He also inserts with strategic purpose dozens of Figures throughout his lively and eloquent narrative and is a master of the bullet checkpoint lists as well as charts and graphs that focus on key points. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.

Nick Gogerty's finial remarks also provide an appropriate conclusion to my review: "Economic value is ultimately measured in human terms. Prioritizing the value of friends, family, and freedoms ensures that the wealth of a lifetime will be correctly measured in the creation of memories, loving relationships, and a reputation for integrity. Never compromise these forms of value for mere money."

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