Mosiac Chapter 13: Latticework II

Mosaic: Perspectives on InvestingIn this chapter of Mohnish Pabrai’s book Mosaic, the discussion starts with a look at Bill Miller of Legg Mason Value Trust. Pabrai argues that Bill Miller’s previous stellar performance with Legg Mason Value Trust lies in “Latticework“, which is the worldly wisdom that comes from an interdisciplinary collection of mental models. Bill Miller views the stockmarket as a complex adaptive system in which the future of a company cannot be solely analyzed based on book value or P/E ratio. (I wonder if his drifting away from focusing an value fundamentals has led to his more recent poor performance.)

Part of Bill Millers mental latticework comes from his education in history and philosophy. His bookshelf features the following books:

I’m not much of a fan of Bill Miller, but some of these books look interesting. I think I’ll add Swarm Intelligence to my reading list soon. It covers a topic I’m particularly interested in, which is how individual behavior can appear random, but collectively have order. It might even help me improve how Value Investing News works.

The article then goes on to talk about Bill Miller’s interest in The Santa Fe Institute.  The goal of this organization is to encourage collaborative work between traditional disciplines, share ideas, and encourage practical applications.

Charlie Munger is very into to the development of his own investing latticework. This includes the creation of his own “law of economic selection” based on Charles Darwin’s work. One of Darwin’s observations was that people have a tendancy to ignore evidence that conflicts with their proconceived theories or the vast majority of other observed evidence. Understanding this bias, carefully observing things that don’t fit or agree with current theories, and then asking why are key to making discoveries. Pabrai recommends reading Darwin’s own words to understand how this scientist could see what others couldn’t.

The development of a latticework mental models requires continual learning. Pabrai notes, “[Investing] is one of the broadest of all disciplines where all knowledge has a cumulative effect and essentially nothing is wasted.” It’s good to know that generalists still have a use in this society, which seems to encourage and promote specialization. I’ve always been very interdisciplinary in nature, so I’m glad that this nature aligns with my interest in investing. Pabrai concludes this article by referencing and recommending The Man Who Beat the S&P by Janet Lowe.

Check out the previous chapter, Latticework I, or continue with chapter 14, Blue Chip Blues. If you are interested in reading about the other chapters of Mosaic, visit my Poor Man’s Mosaic.

One thought on “Mosiac Chapter 13: Latticework II

  • June 28, 2008 at 9:57 am
    Permalink

    “I think I’ll add Swarm Intelligence to my reading list soon. It covers a topic I’m particularly interested in, which is how individual behavior can appear random, but collectively have order.”

    There are some really interesting episodes of swarming behavior in the news recently. Rebels have been using swarming on speed boats in the Niger delta to attack Shell (successfully). Also in France, youths utilized swarming a few years back during their riots, they were mainly communicating via SMS text messages to evade/contain the police for days.

    Its interesting stuff, a good change of pace from the usual things we read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *