Picton Mahoney’s Top Summer Reads 2023

Published: August 17, 2023
Author: Picton Mahoney Asset Management

The glorious summer weather is upon us. What better time to take a cool beverage out to the deck (or the dock) and stretch out with a good book? We surveyed our colleagues here at Picton Mahoney to find out what’s on their summer reading list, and they came up with some pretty compelling recommendations.

Some of it is serious brain food—and why not? There’s a school of thought that says you should read challenging books on vacation, when you have more time and mental bandwidth to ponder deeply and think about complex problems. Or you can just stretch out on a lawn chair and take a nap. You do you—just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Craig Chilton | Portfolio Manager, Merger Arbitrage

In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington by Robert Rubin

A great classic from 20 years ago is Robert Rubin’s In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington. Rubin ran the arbitrage group of Goldman Sachs & Company, so there’s a lot to learn from him about risk-taking and probabilistic thinking, which still applies today in managing an arbitrage portfolio. His time as U.S. Treasury Secretary and also as a senior leader at Citigroup give great insight into management strategy during times of great upheaval. On my reading list this summer is his just-published follow-up, The Yellow Pad: Making Better Decisions in an Uncertain World.

 

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David Di Domizio | Vice President, Retail Sales, Ontario

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

My recommendation is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, for two reasons. Firstly, it offers insights into human nature, delving deep into the intricate workings of power dynamics and shedding light on the often unspoken rules that govern human behaviour. By exploring historical examples, the author uncovers timeless principles of the acquisition and maintenance of power. Secondly, the book gives readers practical strategies for navigating various social and professional situations. It offers a collection of laws that are thoughtfully analyzed and explained, each accompanied by historical references that illustrate its application.

 

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Todd Haibeck | Senior Vice President, Retail Sales, British Columbia

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

I have three books to recommend. The first is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, 3rd Edition, by John Perkins. The book is a riveting exposé of China’s economic hit man strategy: a system that uses development loans to saddle countries with huge debts and force them to serve Chinese interests. If only 10 percent of what Perkins writes is true, it will make you rethink global politics and trade.

The second is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. This incredible depiction of history of humankind is fascinating and should be re-read every few years to provoke thought. And lastly, there’s Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, a memoir about his life growing up in an Italian American home that revolved around food. Why read this book? Well, his TV show was incredible, his Negroni video practically broke the Internet, and come on … it’s Tucci!

 

 

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Mike Lynds | Managing Director, Head of Retail Business

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber & David Wengrow

I am currently reading The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow. As a history buff, I am loving this book because the authors aren’t only challenging the answers to commonly asked questions, they are also challenging the very questions themselves. Particularly interesting is how closely they examine the development of pre-modern man and challenge our belief that our own arc of development was ‘neat and tidy’ (surprise: it wasn’t). The book acts as a reminder to be open to challenges to my perceived knowledge in all areas of life.

 

 

Rob Poole | Co-head Equities, Head of Fundamental Equity Research

Money Men: A Hot Start-Up, a Billion-Dollar Fraud, A Fight for the Truth by Dan McCrum

For those who love investigative journalism, Money Men: A Hot Start-Up, a Billion-Dollar Fraud, A Fight for the Truth is a must read. This book embeds you deep into the multibillion-dollar Wirecard fraud from the centre of the Financial Times’ newsroom, as the journalists struggle to fight through Wirecard’s aggressive response to their work. The book is authored by Dan McCrum, who was named Journalist of the Year in 2020 by the British Journalism Awards for his work on Wirecard.

 

 

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Tom Savage | Portfolio Manager, Merger Arbitrage

Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder

I absolutely loved Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath, by Bill Browder. A follow-up to his megahit Red Notice, this book is the true story of how Browder uncovered and exposed a massive Russian money laundering scheme, and became Vladimir Putin’s Number 1 enemy in the process. This amazing financial caper is a chilling look into the machinations of Putin’s ruthless autocracy … and how one man took him on, and won.

 

 

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Dean Shepard | Chief Revenue Officer

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller

My first recommendation would be Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology, by Chris Miller. It was the Financial Times’ business book of the year in 2022, and it’s extremely relevant, with China threatening to invade Taiwan and battling the U.S. for control of this critical resource. Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World, by Mo Gawdat, is an easy read on the rise of AI and how to stop SkyNet (hint: I’m not so certain we can). 

Finally, I loved Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail, by Ray Dalio. It’s an excellent look at the repeating patterns and cause-and-effect relationships underlying the global shifts in wealth and power over the past 500 years, as well as Dalio’s theories about the current power shift between the U.S. and China.

 

 

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Neil Simons | Portfolio Manager, Head of Multi-Strategy

Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes

My recommendation is Energy: A Human History, by Richard Rhodes. This amazing book is about the history of energy transitions over time, from wood to coal to oil to electricity and beyond. The global economy thrives on cheap and abundant energy—a fact that we seem to have forgotten about until recently. New sources of energy and changes to the global energy system have had large geopolitical consequences. Fun fact: although the first steam engines were less than 0.5%  efficient, they provided sufficient energy to kickstart the industrial revolution.

 

 

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Andrew Tyler | Vice President, Product

Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell

It’s not often that you can extract decades of wisdom from someone who has invented a revolutionary product, let alone someone who has invented three revolutionary products. In his book Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, Tony Fadell, Lead Product Designer of the iPod, iPhone and Nest Thermostat, not only helps stretch your thinking but also provides a ton of actionable advice on building any number of things—a career, a team, a business and, of course, the collaborative process of building a product.

 

 

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Robert Wilson | Senior Vice President, Head of Portfolio Construction Consultation Service

Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson

My pick is Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson. It’s a fascinating tour through the history of technological change, and a discussion of how society can shape the direction of technological progress to improve the future while avoiding unintended consequences. Cutting-edge technology can be a powerful tool for societal transformation if we are thoughtful and intentional about how it’s used.

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This material has been published by Picton Mahoney Asset Management (“PMAM”) on August 17, 2023

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