Keith McCullough's Recent Must-Read Books - keith books

If you've watched The Macro Show or read the Early Look, you know Keith McCullough is an avid reader. His ongoing goal is to read a book, start to finish, every 10 days.

Below are a dozen books Keith has read in the past three months, with brief takeaways he mentioned in his daily Early Look newsletter. 


By Arnold Schwarzenegger

“If it matters to you, make the time.”

Why doesn’t your competition (on the bid/ask of every market price, every day, across every Full Investing Cycle position) do all the work? Why do some of them just stare at their “charts” of a concentrated group of U.S. Bubble Cap stocks?

A: It’s Hard Work. Yep, measuring and mapping ALL of Global Macro economically (50 countries) and EVERY major Macro Market Signal is hard. And it’s really hard to do with discipline for decades.

As Arnold reminds us in Be Useful: “The questions you need to ask yourself are: how much time am I wasting – how much of it do I flush down the toilet of social media (or CNBC)? Sadly, a lot of people waste a lot of time.” That’s not sad. That’s good for us!

2. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

By Matthew Perry

“Nobody ever thinks that something really bad is going to happen to them. Until it does.”

Ever see the episodes of Friends where Ross, Joey and Chandler are begging for Monica’s attention … and they all think they (individually) have it … and then…

Eventually, Chandler Bing got what he wanted. But that was just on a TV show. In real life, he got a “perforated bowel, aspiration pneumonia, and an ECMO machine.” 

That’s what you get after you drink a handle of vodka (per day) and take 55 Vicodin (in a day). So how about taking a month-end-markup shot of fentanyl with an imminent Fed Rate CUT with a full-blown US recession (all “priced in”), in a day?

Everyone reading this gets the analogy. They should get the severity of the situation too. Modern day Wall Street was built on the fatally addictive drug of easy money. At EVERY sign of danger to their compensation structure, they want/need MORE RATE CUTS.


By Adam Grant

“Character doesn’t set like plaster – it retains its plasticity.”

That was a good rebuttal of the Old Wall Econ equivalent school of Psychology (from the 1800s) of William James that believed that “by the age of thirty, your character has set like plaster and will never soften again.”

Like now, way back then it required zero knowledge to believe someone’s opinion. In Chapter 1 (titled “Skills Of Character – Getting Better At Getting Better”), Grant goes on to explain: “Character is often confused with personality, but they’re not the same. Personality is your predisposition – how you think, feel, and act. Character is your capacity to prioritize your values over your instincts.”

Are you going to prioritize #VASP Signals and The ROC (rate of change) of the INFLATION data, or are you going to go with your personal thoughts and “feelings” on these matters.


By Carol Travis

“I see no reason why I should be consciously wrong today because I was unconsciously wrong yesterday.” – Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson

That quote came from a book a very experienced Institutional Investor (and client) sent me. It’s a good #behavioral book.

Supreme Court Justice Jackson said that in 1948. You can say that to yourself today, tomorrow, or for the rest of your life. But, when it comes to preserving, protecting, and compounding YOUR hard-earned capital, that’s not going to help you win.

Winning or losing money isn’t an opinion. It’s in your accounts. Did you buy the damn dips in Asset Allocations that we’re already long this week? Why wouldn’t you?


By John Bacon

“Three o’clock means three o’clock.”

John U. Bacon was the head coach of the worst hockey team in America: The River Rats of Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When he took over, the team was 0-22-3. For all you crazy hockey parents out there who know what the “MyHockey Rankings” are, they were dead last. That is VERY hard to do.

In his great #behavirol and leadership book, Bacon tells the story of how they became one of the best teams in the state of Michigan. It started with being on time. He explains how “we worked together to change the way we thought, acted, dressed, worked, and performed – in that order.” Note: the performance doesn’t come first – it comes last.


By Ed Mylett

“You can find your best life by doing one more than the world expects of you.”

“You were not born to be average or ordinary.” You were born into this business to own the same 7 stocks everyone else does!

Fortunately Mylett didn’t write that last sentence in this #behavioral book a subscriber sent me. That would be the equivalent of getting a Luna Coin tattoo for your One More Best Life in the Hamptons in 2021.

Even though it took two years to get whoever chased the last SPY all-time high back to break-even, can we get one more today? How about another one after that? Why not? Owning pretty much everything else pretty much sucks.


By Jennifer Burns

“Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.” – Joe Biden

That’s right, Joe. On The Big G, you’re running it up!

On running up the U.S. Deficit and Government Debt, 2023 is going to be a record year in America. Public sector jobs as a percentage of U.S. payroll gains ramped to record highs but now American Job Cuts are running up +115% year-over-year.

This is what we call a Major Macro #Divergence. You’re seeing that politically (and obviously) too.

Instead of getting into the politics of it all, let’s just stay with what we do best: The ROC (Rate of Change) of it all. While U.S. government hiring and spending was the “hero” of 2023, now its tailwinds to “Soft Landings” are turning into headwinds.


By William McRaven

“Be decisive. Don’t take too much counsel of your fears.”

As long-time subscribers to our process know, I focus my reading/learning on three main subject areas: Math, History and #Behavioral. Since my math doesn’t change much, the biggest opportunity for me to #GetBetter is in MY behavior.

While changing MY behavior and how I make decisions is far from “easy,” it’s a LOT harder to coach YOUR behavior. That’s why I’m going ALL CAPS on YOU on that point this morning. YOU are the only one who can really change your behavior.

As McRaven goes on to coach, “be thoughtful, but not paralyzed by decision.

I don’t suggest you “don’t think.” But I’m adamant that you don’t “feel” when you make buy/sell decisions.


By Rick Rubin

“Think of the universe as an eternal creative unfolding.”

Are you tuned into the daily unfolding of it all? While Tourists were staring at the U.S. jobs report at 8:30am on a Friday, did you know that the ISM Services report was about to #slow (at a faster pace toward contraction/recession) at 10am?

As Rick Rubin goes on to write in a good #behavioral book I just finished reading, “these rhythms are not set by us. We are all participating in a larger creative act we are not conducting.”

Don’t tell people who think that an unelected group of inaccurate forecasters (at the U.S. Federal Reserve) can bend and smooth economic gravity that. When bad economic data becomes bad, they’re always way behind the curve.


By Rob Copeland on Ray Dalio

“When you’re rich, they think you really know.” – Fiddler On The Roof

Rob Copeland used that quote to introduce a very critical #behavioral book. While there’s plenty of controversy in the book, it’s important to remember how many times Dalio was dead wrong on calling for depressions/recessions.

We all get things wrong. When we’re wrong doesn’t matter nearly as much as A) how much money we lose WHEN we’re improperly positioned and B) if/WHEN we have the risk management #process and flexibility to change our positioning.

Some would say I was “dead wrong” on calling for a U.S. recession in 2023. I’d say that’s right. I’d also say that I didn’t lose money in 2023. My hard-earned pile hit all-time highs. My batting average across 643 closed positions in Real-Time Alerts was 81%.


By Sally Jenkins

“What makes the seat worth coveting is its unpurchaseable proximity to greatness in practice…”

That’s what Sally Jenkins had to say about taking it all in from the sportswriter’s seat. She calls it “the best in the house” … and that she’s “not fool enough to waste” the opportunity to watch the practice of the best pros. “I take notes.”

“To witness the clutch shot, the winning throw, or the final strike is just a fractional part of the job. Most of your time is spent at practice, watching the alchemical processes by which coaches and athletes find the right action in the moment.” – Jenkins

Are you focused on making the “right calls” or having the right process?

I’m obviously (and constantly) focused on my #process. While making some good or bad “calls” is what many amateurs (and some pros) want/need to reduce the job to, that’s not my job.

My job is to not only play The Game out loud, but coach it, across the Full Investing Cycle. The years of reps and learnings it takes to step up to the keyboard to write this every morning is material.

The best part: The Game is always changing and only those who evolve their game will survive its daily grind.


By Pat Summitt

“When you own something, you possess it, live it, act on it.”

When I think about my family, firm and process, there aren’t many better quotes I’ve read recently than that.

In a uniquely All-American #behavioral memoir I read over the holidays, that’s what Pat Summit had to say about her Alzheimer's diagnosis. She died young due to that disease, but her legacy lives on.

While she’ll be remembered by outsiders as the winningest coach in US College Basketball history (1,098 wins with 8 NCAA championships), by those closest to her she’ll be remembered as a great mom, mentor and coach.