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Value Investing with Legends

May 31, 2019

Today’s conversation is with one of the finest intellectual investors and academic at heart, Michael Mauboussin. Michael is the Director of Research at BlueMountain Capital Management in New York and was formerly the Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse and Chief Investment Strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management. 

While rising to the top in his corporate career, Michael authored three books, including my favorite, More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, which was named one of the best business books by Businessweek and which features prominently in today’s show. Michael has been an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School since 1993 and is on the faculty of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute, a leading center for multi-disciplinary research in complex systems theory.

On this episode, Michael and I talk about the early epiphany he had that set him on the path to Chief U.S. Investment Strategist, the importance of teaching value investing alongside psychology, the main contributors to investment bias, the importance of cognitive diversity, the top three techniques you can use to mitigate against bias in your investment processes, and so much more!


Key Topics:

  • The epiphany Michael had from reading Creating Shareholder Value early in his Wall Street career (3:32)
  • Why we should teach value investing in a way that includes both finance and psychology (5:38)
  • How Michael’s focus on strategy and valuation issues helped him move from food analyst to Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Credit Suisse (7:02)
  • Why analyzing the investment process has been an underlying theme throughout Michael’s career (7:30)
  • The three aspects to consider when examining how biases get incorporated into market valuations (9:54)
  • The effect of market structure on the incorporation of biases (11:45)
  • The conditions which have to be in place for the wisdom of crowds to operate efficiently (12:13)
  • Why market prices don’t directly reflect information (14:05)
  • The impact of financial institutions on the workings of the economy at large (16:04)
  • Why cognitive diversity leads to better decision-making for complex issues (17:33)
  • Applying the Diversity Prediction Theorem (18:47)
  • What the Asch experiment teaches us about biased decision-making (22:07)
  • The surprising neurological findings behind the results of the Asch experiment (24:56)
  • Value investing means being a contrarian and a calculator (26:52)
  • The difference between experience and expertise (28:36)
  • How technology has led to “the expert squeeze” (31:17)
  • Our thoughts on the future of machine-learning versus human judgment for investment decision-making (34:15)
  • The important difference between outcome and process (36:25)
  • Why you should audit your processes as an investor, even when you’re doing well (38:10)
  • Using a base rate to incorporate an outside view into your investment decisions (40:52)
  • How a pre-mortem helps you to identify bias and weaknesses by triggering the interpreter in your brain (43:57)
  • Applying red teaming to investment process analysis and decision-making (46:28)
  • Translating the margin of safety into decision processes (47:30)
  • The types of scenarios which are well-suited to routinizing (51:24)
  • Michael’s thoughts on passive investing (53:12)
  • And much more!

Mentioned in this Episode:


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