A Memo from the Chairman

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management LP and this week's guest on Masters in Business, began writing his Chairman’s Memos as part of his thought process in 1990. He describes the first decade of printing them out, putting them into stamped envelopes, mailing them out -- and receiving zero response. “We didn’t even know if anyone got them.” His January 2000 letter “Bubble.com” was dead right and perfectly timed. When the premise became a Barron’s cover story, it was his first inkling that people were actually reading them.

The next hint people were reading his missives came when Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett urged Marks to write a book based on his memos, and offered to write a blurb for it. That book became Marks's first effort as an author, the well-regarded “The Most Important Thing Illuminated.”

Marks discusses this and other topics in our special edition of Masters in Business, broadcast live on Bloomberg Television and Radio from Bloomberg's New York headquarters on Feb. 25. Video can be found here.

Oaktree manages more than $120 billion in distressed debt. His new book is “Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side.” Our earlier conversations with Marks were in 20152017 and 2018.

His favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation will be posted shortly.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras, on iTunesBloombergOvercast and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunesStitcherOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with John Chisholm, co-chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer of Acadian Asset Management, a quantitative global equity manager managing $86.5 billion in assets.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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