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Billionaire investor Charlie Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and long-time friend to Warren Buffett, died on Tuesday. He was 99 years old.
Munger was known for his quick wit, life-long passion for learning and old-school approach to investing. Munger leaves behind a colossal legacy that extends from Wall Street to Main Street.
“His impact went far beyond the investing world. People discovered him, thinking that they would learn about ways to make money, but they got so much more,” Whitney Tilson, an investor and expert on both Buffett and Munger, told Before the Bell. “He talked about a latticework of how an intelligent person needs to read and study a wide range of subjects. He said ‘if all you have is a hammer, the world looks like a nail.’”
Munger, who was worth $2.7 billion according to Forbes, was revered for his pithy and often humorous remarks on investing, life and more. He often employed whatTilson calls Munger-isms to simply convey very complex concepts.
His speeches and writings, compiled in books like “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” are considered essential reading for anyone interested in business, investing or the art of clear thinking.
Here are some of his most memorable musings.
On investing in tech:
“We were not ideally located to be high-tech wizards. How many people of our age quickly mastered Google? I’ve been to Google headquarters. It looked to me like a kindergarten.” – Berkshire Hathaway meeting, 2018
On algorithmic trading:
“We have computers with algorithms trading against other computers. We’ve got people who know nothing about stocks, being advised by stockbrokers who know even less.” – Berkshire Hathaway 2022 meeting
“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help—particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.” – 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address
On sitting tight:
“There are huge advantages for an individual to get into a position where you make a few great investments and just sit on your a**: You are paying less to brokers. You are listening to less nonsense. And if it works, the governmental tax system gives you an extra 1, 2 or 3 percentage points per annum compounded.” – Worldly Wisdom by Charlie Munger 1995 – 1998
“I think life is a whole series of opportunity costs. You know, you got to marry the best person who is convenient to find who will have you. Investment is much the same sort of a process.” – 1997 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
On the government deficit:
“A man who jumps out of a building is OKuntil he hits the ground.” – 2023 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting
On mastering our emotions:
“A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments. And that is why we say that having a certain kind of temperament is more important than brains. You need to keep raw irrational emotion under control. You need patience and discipline and an ability to take losses and adversity without going crazy. You need an ability to not be driven crazy by extreme success.” – Kiplinger interview, 2005
On problem solving:
“Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward.” – Poor Charlie’s Almanack
“You’ll do better if you have passion for something in which you have aptitude. If Warren Buffett had gone into ballet, no one would have heard of him.” – Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, 2008
“Invest in a business any fool can run, because someday a fool will. If it won’t stand a little mismanagement, it’s not much of a business.” – Poor Charlie’s Almanack
“If I can be optimistic when I’m nearly dead, surely the rest of you can handle a little inflation” – 2010 annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting.
“It’s so simple. You spend less than you earn. Invest shrewdly, and avoid toxic people and toxic activities, and try and keep learning all your life, etcetera etcetera. And do a lot of deferred gratification because you prefer life that way. And if you do all those things you are almost certain to succeed. And if you don’t, you’re gonna need a lot of luck.” – Poor Charlie’s Almanack
On old age:
“The best armor of old age is a well spent life preceding it.” – Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth With Commentary by David Clarkhis
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