(Bloomberg) The first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere means reading season has begun. Yet with the globe’s economic outlook complicated by a trade war, Mideast tension and a murky outlook for monetary policy, investors are shunning their usual beach reads.
Kyle Bass, founder of Dallas-based Hayman Capital Management LP, said next on his list is “Unrestricted Warfare” by two colonels in China’s People’s Liberation Army. The book explores strategies that less powerful nations could take to successfully confront the U.S. through legal, economic or cyber attacks. Bass, who said in May he’s “very long dollars” in a bet against Hong Kong, recently closed his long-standing bet against China’s yuan.
Meantime, Whitney Baker’s list is topped by David Fromkin’s “A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.” It chronicles Europe’s shifting balance of power before World War I. She said it offers potentially interesting parallels to today.
“When big secular sea changes are underway as now, they pose the greatest risk to investors operating in a complacent status quo,” said Baker, the founder of New York-based Totem Macro, which advises funds holding more than $3 trillion.
Said Haidar, founder of New York-based Haidar Capital Management, is turning the clock back even further. He’s reading the Landmark edition of Julius Caesar’s writing by Swiss historian Kurt Raaflaub, seeking to better understand how the Roman dictator built alliances to divide his foes.
“It should be a road map to successful handling of trade wars and geopolitical conflicts,” Haidar said. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure current U.S. leaders have read this.”
At least one investor is still looking for an escape, though. Geraldine Sundstrom, the London-based managing director at Pacific Investment Management Co. and former money manager at Brevan Howard Asset Management, said frequent business travel leaves her limited time for fresh air. That’s drawn her to Levison Wood’s 2016 account of a grueling 1,700-mile trek, “Walking the Himalayas.”
“It is the attitude in the face of adverse physical or geopolitical situations that is a great lesson: Detours, the long way round, taking the time and making the most of it, accepting it, which feels like light years away from the fast and furious financial world,” Sundstrom said.