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The Memo by Howard Marks
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The Memo by Howard Marks

Author: Oaktree Capital Management

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On October 12, 1990, Oaktree Co-Chairman Howard Marks published his first memo to clients. In the decades since, he has periodically released memos reflecting his viewpoint on the investment landscape, as well as more general business insights. On this podcast we'll hear the latest memos by Howard, released in tandem with or shortly after their publication.

55 Episodes
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The Impact of Debt

The Impact of Debt

2024-05-0816:052

In his latest memo, Howard Marks examines the relationship between leverage and survivability, taking inspiration from a recent Collaborative Fund post by Morgan Housel. Howard explains why determining the appropriate amount of leverage should be about optimization, not maximization.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/the-impact-of-debt).
Where are we in the market cycle? Why is it healthy to be uncertain? And what does it mean to actually “be opportunistic”? In the latest episode of The Insight: Conversations, Howard Marks (Co-Chairman), Armen Panossian (Co-CEO), and David Rosenberg (Head of Liquid Performing Credit) discuss these and other topics from the recently published Performing Credit Quarterly 1Q2024: Unusually Uncertain.
In his latest memo, Howard Marks considers what chess can teach investors about the paradox of risk-taking. Drawing on insights from a recent Wall Street Journal article (https://www.wsj.com/sports/chess-teaches-the-power-of-sacrifice-221db7b7) by chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley, Howard explains why not taking enough risk may be one of the riskiest strategies of all.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/the-indispensability-of-risk).
The Archive: You Bet!

The Archive: You Bet!

2024-03-2147:59

In his 2020 memo You Bet!, Howard Marks explained what it means to “think in bets,” as he discussed the many parallels between investing and games of chance. Now you can listen to You Bet!, the first release from The Memo by Howard Marks: The Archive. We’ve received many requests for an audio library of the memos that Howard Marks has published over the last 34 years, so we’re going to begin building this archive by releasing audio versions of some of Howard’s most popular memos.To hear more about Howard’s thoughts on this memo, listen to his conversation with former professional poker player and best-selling author Annie Duke, whose 2018 book Thinking in Bets was the inspiration for the memo. This special episode (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/insight-podcast/market-commentary/the-insight-conversations-special-episode-with-annie-duke-and-howard-marks) of the The Insight: Conversations with Howard and Annie was released in December 2023.
In this special episode of Behind the Memo, Howard Marks is joined by journalist and financial historian Edward Chancellor to discuss ideas from Howard’s recent memo, Easy Money, which was inspired by Edward’s book, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest. They explore the history of interest rates, the profound impact they’ve had on financial markets, and the potential dangers of keeping them too low.You can listen to "Easy Money" in the prior episode in this feed.
Easy Money

Easy Money

2024-01-0956:514

In his latest memo, Howard Marks considers what financial history can teach us about periods of easy money, the impact they have on investor behavior, and what happens when they end. He analyzes macroeconomic trends using insights from Edward Chancellor’s latest book The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest to argue that we’re unlikely to soon see the return of the permissive investment climate that prevailed in recent decades.The memo is read by LJ Ganser.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/easy-money).
What is a “normal” investment environment? What might a recession in 2024 mean for liquid credit? What’s happening in life sciences lending today? Find out by listening to the latest episode of The Insight: Conversations with Howard Marks (Co-Chairman), David Rosenberg (Co-Portfolio Manager, Global Credit), and Aman Kumar (Co-Portfolio Manager, Life Sciences Lending). They discuss topics from the December edition of The Roundup: Top Takeaways from Oaktree’s Quarterly Letters and consider what investors should focus on as we enter 2024 – and what remains unknowable.
Special guest Annie Duke (former professional poker player, best-selling author) joins Howard Marks to discuss ideas from her book Thinking in Bets and Howard’s memo You Bet!  They explore luck, decision quality, uncertainty, and more in this special episode of The Insight: Conversations.
Howard Marks (Co-Chairman) and Armen Panossian (Head of Performing Credit) discuss topics related to Howard’s latest memo, Further Thoughts on Sea Change, and Oaktree’s recently published Performing Credit Quarterly 3Q2023 in this crossover episode of The Insight: Conversations and Behind the Memo. They consider the implications of the potential sea change reshaping the investment environment, the tail risks building in today’s markets, and what it means to be in a full return world.
In his latest memo, Howard Marks provides a follow-up to Sea Change (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/sea-change), his thought-provoking memo published in December 2022. He argues that the trends he highlighted in the original memo collectively represent a sweeping alteration of the investment environment that calls for significant capital reallocation. Further Thoughts on Sea Change was originally sent exclusively to Oaktree clients on May 30, 2023. All market data cited in this memo is as of May 30, 2023.The memo is read by LJ Ganser.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/docs/default-source/memos/further-thoughts-on-sea-change3dda4540-569f-4415-9a5b-004fbabf06d4.pdf?sfvrsn=c3cc5166_3).
How have credit investors been successfully navigating the volatile interest rate environment?  Which sectors currently look attractive to opportunistic credit investors?  What are some of the major misconceptions about today’s commercial real estate market?  In this episode of The Insight: Conversations, Wayne Dahl (Assistant Portfolio Manager, Global Credit), Robert O’Leary (Portfolio Manager, Global Opportunities), and Mark Jacobs (Co-Portfolio Manager, Real Estate Income) discuss topics from the September edition of The Roundup: Top Takeaways from Oaktree’s Quarterly Letters (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/insight-commentary/market-commentary/the-roundup-top-takeaways-from-oaktrees-quarterly-letters-september-2023-edition) and explain what it means to be in a credit picker’s market.
In the latest episode of Behind the Memo, Howard discusses his recent memo: Fewer Losers, or More Winners?  He details the inspiration for the memo and explains why investors – like tennis players – need to consider their skill level, aspirations, and risk tolerance when asking themselves a fundamental question: Should I go for more winners, or try to avoid the losers?You can listen to Fewer Losers, or More Winners? in the prior episode or read it here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/fewer-losers-or-more-winners).
In his latest memo, Howard Marks discusses the essential choice in both investing and sports: should you go for more winners or try to eliminate losers? That is, should you emphasize aggressiveness or defensiveness? This is a key decision that every investor has to make thoughtfully, and the answer can be different for each person.  The memo is read by LJ Ganser.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/fewer-losers-or-more-winners).
Learn about the current state of European credit and the dramatic changes seen over the last year in this thought-provoking discussion with Armen Panossian (Head of Performing Credit), Madelaine Jones (Portfolio Manager, European Senior Loans and European High Yield Bonds), and Nael Khatoun (Head of European Private Debt).  They consider the challenges created by the end of the easy money era, risks posed by geopolitics and artificial intelligence, and the quality advantage that exists in European markets.
Armen Panossian (Head of Performing Credit), Danielle Poli (Assistant Portfolio Manager, Global Credit), and Megan Messina (Head of CLO Capital Markets) discuss topics from the 2Q2023 Performing Credit Quarterly.  They consider the current tug-of war between fiscal and monetary policy, opportunities in credit, and what many investors are getting wrong about today’s CLO market.
Taking The Temperature

Taking The Temperature

2023-07-1049:191

In his latest memo, Howard Marks discusses five market calls he’s made during his career. He argues that investors seeking to take the temperature of the market should focus on understanding prevailing market psychology and the nature of cycles. Just as importantly, they should learn to control their own emotions and have the humility to know when not to make a call.The memo is read by LJ Ganser.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/docs/default-source/memos/taking-the-temperature.pdf?sfvrsn=93bb5366_6).
David Rosenberg, co-portfolio manager of Oaktree’s U.S. and Global High Yield strategies, and Howard Marks discuss topics from the June 2023 edition of The Roundup. They consider the evolution of the high yield bond market, investor optimism and why this time might actually be different in financial markets.
Oaktree Investment Risk Officer Wayne Dahl explains why economic statistics can tell conflicting stories and what this means for credit investors trying to make sense of today’s noisy data.
In the first episode of Oaktree’s new podcast, Armen Panossian (Head of Performing Credit) and Howard Marks (Co-Chairman) discuss key takeaways from the 1Q2023 Performing Credit Quarterly, including the potential ramifications of the recent banking turmoil, opportunities in private credit and a possible rise in distress. As part of the discussion, they explore Howard’s memo Lessons from Silicon Valley Bank.
In his latest memo, Howard Marks discusses the significance of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse. He argues that it likely doesn’t portend a wave of banking failures but may amplify preexisting wariness among investors and lenders, leading to further credit tightening and additional pain across a range of industries and sectors.The memo is read by LJ Ganser.You can read the memo here (https://www.oaktreecapital.com/insights/memo/lessons-from-silicon-valley-bank).
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