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Warren Buffett, legendary businessman, visionary and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, not to mention a famous cheapskate, has had plenty to say over the years. Some of his statements are good advice for our future as well…especially about pride.
I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will. (said during a panel discussion in 2008)
Take me as an example. I happen to have a talent for allocating capital. But my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society I was born into. If I’d been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. I can’t run very fast. I’m not particularly strong. I’d probably end up as some wild animal’s dinner. (quoted by Joseph Nocera in “The Heresy That Made Them Rich,” a 2005 article in the New York Times.)
If you expect to be a net saver during the next five years, should you hope for a higher or lower stock market during that period? Many investors get this one wrong. Even though they are going to be net buyers of stocks for many years to come, they are elated when stock prices rise and depressed when they fall. In effect, they rejoice because prices have risen for the “hamburgers” they will soon be buying. This reaction makes no sense. Only those who will be sellers of equities in the near future should be happy at seeing stocks rise. Prospective purchasers should much prefer sinking prices. (From his 1997 Chairman’s Letter)
We’re more comfortable in that kind of business. It means we miss a lot of very big winners. But we wouldn’t know how to pick them out anyway. It also means we have very few big losers – and that’s quite helpful over time. We’re perfectly willing to trade away a big payoff for a certain payoff. (At the 1999 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting)
And from the same meeting: The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything—you can wait for your pitch. The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, “Swing, you bum!”
And this one, possibly the best of all:
A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful . . . Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up.