Capital Returns: Investing Through The Capital Cycle was published in 2015 and outlines the capital cycle approach to investing used by Marathon Asset Management. Introduced and edited by financial historian and investment strategist Edward Chancellor the book includes a number of Marathon client essays published between 2002 and 2015. As pointed out by Chancellor, the essays are unashamedly a cherry picked list of client notes chosen with a big dose of hindsight bias. That being said they offer a useful way of illustrating the points made in the introductory chapters and so many of them are also worth a read.


Howard Marks is the founder of Oaktree Capital. He has been writing memos about markets to his clients since 1990 (they are all published on their website). Marks’ first book, “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor” is a collection of the best insights from his memos.

Marks’ latest book, “Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side” was published in October 2018. It focuses on one thing: market cycles. Why they occur, how to spot them, and how investors should use them to improve their returns. The book goes into great depth on the…


Over seven years, 45 of the world’s top investors were given between $25 and $150m to invest by fund manager Lee Freeman-Shor. His instructions were simple. There was only one rule. They could only invest in their ten best ideas to make money.

The process gave Lee the perfect position to view what investment strategies succeeded and failed and even more importantly how some of the top investors played the market conditions they were dealt. In his book (The Art of Execution: How the world’s best investors get it wrong and still make millions in the markets) he outlines what…


Commodity trading firms are the ultimate middlemen, linking the suppliers of raw materials — often countries that are hotbeds of corruption — with consumers in wealthy and emerging economies. They may earn wafer thin margins, but with large volumes they generate huge revenues. Their unique position means that they have become some of the most influential companies in the world. Yet few outside of the commodity trading world have heard their names (Trafigura, Vitol, Cargill…), far less have the remotest idea of the power that they wield.

Two Bloomberg (and ex-FT) journalists, Javier Blas and Jack Farchy have covered the…


Paul Ehrlich (Stanford University biologist and and author of the 1968 book “The Population Bomb”) thought that overpopulation would cause disaster and widespread scarcity. Ehrlich’s bleak vision was anything but that of a lone crank. Countless experts made similar forecasts in the 1950s and 1960s. In his book, Ehrlich declared that:

Neo-Malthusian Ehrlich thought like a biologist. He believed that there was an inverse…


When the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks embarked upon their quantitative easing programs shortly after the Global Financial Crisis many feared that the impact would be inflationary.

In an open letter to then Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, twenty-three of the most recognised economists, investors and analysts outlined their concerns:


Everything you see and hear is part of a narrative. Whether political, celebrity, financial, science, religious or sport. Every story we see is part of a narrative that makes sense on some level, be it personal, societal or cultural.

The prevailing narrative of our time is known as the zeitgeist. It includes the general intellectual, moral and cultural climate of a particular era and embodies all of our…


2020 marks the 300-year anniversary of England’s most notorious speculative mania, and the first of many economic and financial crisis.

During the first half of 1720, the price of South Sea Company stock rose eight-fold reaching a peak in early July. Restrictions on the supply of shares, coupled with surging credit availability fueled the share buying bonanza. The fear of missing out on riches drove the share price even higher.

At its peak, the Company’s market worth was around twice the total value of all the land in England. Those charged with running the Company and connected to it in…


When we make decisions we tend to be swayed by what we remember. What we remember is influenced by many things including beliefs, expectations, emotions, and feelings as well as things like the frequency of exposure. The availability bias as it is known can substantially and unconsciously influence our judgment. We too easily assume that our recollections are representative and true and discount events that are outside of our immediate memory.

In 2016 insularity of opinion and experience led to shock and bewilderment for those on the losing side of two political events. People in the UK who voted ‘leave’…


We perceive the world from one perspective — our own. We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. It is of course the only reality we know. The trouble is that it’s flawed. …

Peter Sainsbury

I write about commodity markets at www.materials-risk.com. Author of a book about the power of media narratives and reclaiming your thinking.

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