Investment Outlook Styles

Just curious what people like to read in outlooks? Which ones/styles do you prefer?

I do a fair amount of investment outlook ghost writing for varied investment professionals. I usually do this by having a discussion with the portfolio manager of how they look at the world, identify the key points they want to hit, fire back questions that probe how and why they think this, the degree of conviction, flesh out data to support those points, how best to present it via a mixture of charts, writing, and analogies.

I was reading Bill Gross’ latest letter ( and I enjoy it, but it rambles. So does John Maudlin’s, and many other well-known managers. They start by recalling some thought they had while talking about the cake at their granddaughter’s 4th birthday or something, and eventually - by the 10th paragraph - we get to something about how people are reducing their risk aversion, possibly unwisely.

Some clients want me to do a cut-and-dry “just present the data,” others want me to get more creative.

I definitely try to shoot for a middle ground. “just data” is just boring to look at - you won’t remember what it means without some colorful turn of phrase like “These EM bonds really are basically like CvM’s morning shower drain, but with less liquidity.” But I don’t particularly care about Bill Gross looking in the mirror and thinking about Michael Jackson and his ageing skin for 5 paragraphs.

I think Jeremy Grantham’s writer does a great job at GMO. They set up the context well, and then the data, and punch the lesson or idea.

I spend a lot of time on my writing, because I don’t like to write stuff that I wouldn’t want to have to read, or at least if I’m forced to read it, I try to make it go down smoothly.

Just curious what people like to read in outlooks? What styles do you prefer? Who do you like to read, and why them vs. someone else?

i agree with the GMO content. pretty much all Grantham and Inker publications are memorable and good reads. a big reason why these guys are successful is their knowledge of history. bringing obscure but interesting economic and political tidbits into the fray makes me feel like i’m eading Reminiscences or something of the sort. they’re also pretty funny. also, they paint a picture of the future better than most writers in history.

If only that picture were pretty…

true, they’re not exactly raging optimists. but it is nice to have a dose of reality with all the “the market has never been cheaper at this point in the cycle!!!”

I love(d) reading Don Coxe whenever he put out a “Basic Points.” The guy was really off on his commodities call (at least in the short term) but a superb writer. I would always have a dictionary at hand because there was invariably a word or two I had never heard of.

Shame he rarely writes anymore.

I always like to know what Bill Gross is thinking and agree that Grantham and Inker are superb.

I’d love a site that would aggregate all the 2014 economic/investment outlooks. If someone could build that, or just link to one, I’ll send you my AF dopp kit.

Advisor Perspectives is a pretty good resource…

I’ve liked the way David Rosenberg presents material, though I don’t often agree with his conclusions and don’t read him as often now that he’s moved to Canada. I used to read James Montier a lot and liked his stuff, but, again, I don’t see his stuff as often now that he’s at GMO. For others, I’ll often already know what they’re writing about sufficiently that it’s not surprising. Like I can just sort of skim it and get the sense of their views. I see a lot in presentations where people will highlight some obscure series, but I’m not sure how much value that really adds.