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At 98-years-old, Charlie Munger still delivers the one-liners

Charlie Munger has been investing with Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway since 1978. While Warren hosts the company’s Annual Shareholder Meetings, answering questions for hours, it is Charlie who delivers the acerbic wit. Given his wealth and age, nobody and nothing is off limits, sometimes to Warren’s chagrin. It makes for fine entertainment when he is prepared to speak the truth that others avoid.

Charlie was born on 1 January 1924, and to mark his 98th birthday, some of his one-liners are collected on this video. As the introduction says:

“Charlie Munger isn't just one of the greatest investors who has ever lived, he is also one of the few brilliant minds who basically has no filter. When he sees something which he thinks is wrongdoing or stupid, he just can't help but being opinionated and speak up about it.”

Let ‘er rip, Charlie

“Those of you who are about to enter business school or are there, I recommend you learn to do it our way but at least until you're out of school, you have to pretend to do it their way.”

“Warren, if people weren't so often wrong, we wouldn't be so rich.”

“I think you would understand any presentation using the word EBITDA, if every time you saw that word, you just substituted the phrase ‘bullshit earnings’.”

“I'm optimistic about life. I can be optimistic when I’m nearly dead. Surely the rest of you can handle a little inflation.”

“The best way to get what you want in life is to deserve what you want. How could it be otherwise? It's not crazy enough so that the world is looking for a lot of undeserving people to reward.”

“Everybody wants fiscal virtue but not quite yet. They're like that guy who felt that way about sex. He’s willing to give it up but not quite yet.”

“Well, you don't want to be like the motion picture executive in California. They said the funeral was so large because everybody wanted to make sure he was dead.”

“It was investment banker-aided fraud. Not exactly novel.”

“Sure, there are a lot of things in life way more important than wealth. All that said, some people do get confused. I play golf with a man he says, ‘What good is health, you can't buy money with it.’"

“Well, there are a lot of things I don't think about and one of them is companies that are losing $2-3 billion a year and going public.”

“In accounting, you can do things like they do in Italy when they have trouble with the mail. It piles up and irritates the postal employees. They just throw away a few cartloads and everything flows smoothly.”

“The general system for money management requires people to pretend that they can do something that they can't do, and to pretend to like it when they really don't. I think that's a terrible way to spend your life, but it's very well paid.”

“I can't give you a formulaic approach because I don't use one. If you want a formula, you should go back to graduate school. They'll give you lots of formulas that won't work.”

“As Samuel Johnson said famously, ‘I can give you an argument, but I can't give you an understanding.’"

“It's perfectly obvious, at least to me, that to say that derivative accounting in America is a sewer is an insult to sewage.”

“Competency is a relative concept. And what a lot of us need, including the one speaking when I needed to get ahead, was to compete against idiots. And luckily, there's a large supply."

“I don't like multi-tasking. I see these people doing three things at once and I think, what a terrible way that is to think.”

“I like cryptocurrency currencies a lot less than you do. And I think that professional traders who go into trading cryptocurrencies, it's just disgusting. It's like somebody else is trading turds and you decide ‘I can't be left out.'"

“Once I asked a man who just left a large investment bank and I said, ‘How's your firm make its money?’ He said, 'Off the top, off the bottom, off both sides and in the middle.'"

“Well, I would rather throw a viper down my shirt front than hire a compensation consultant.”

“I think I'm offended enough.”

 

Graham Hand is Managing Editor of Firstlinks.

 

11 Comments
Brad
February 02, 2022

The academics & those in the upper reaches of the finance industry have made it seem more complicated than it is; usually to line their own pockets, thank goodness for Charlie Munger to call bullshit when he sees it.

Thurston Howell 4th
January 28, 2022

This years upcoming shareholder meeting in Omaha may likely be one of your last chances to attend BRK's Woodstock for Capitalists. If you can go: you should, at least once. It really is worth the long haul to experience the weekend festivities and listen to Warren and Charlie have their say. Definitely, a little piece of history that can't last forever.

Don
January 20, 2022

Not sure if he said this: Corporate Moral compasses have been totally confused by waving the magnet of profit in front of their vision. Employees who don't conform to the "profit at any cost" mantra - eg Banks; Finance Industry; Insurance Industry - don't get long service leave.

Daniel
January 19, 2022

lol love the comment about inflation.
Makes me want to invest some more :)

Max Percy
January 19, 2022

Charlie Munger, what an an amazing man.
It probably wont be until he passes away that the investing world will wake up to the fact , in my opinion, " thank god such a person has lived".
So much wisdom from a man I admire.

Bev
January 19, 2022

Love it Charlie. Always say it like it really is. Going to miss you when you finally leave this planet.

Peter Latham
January 19, 2022

A comment of Charlie’s (not included above) which I like and which is particularly relevant in today’s “trading mentality” and quick profit attitude is; “Sometime the hardest thing about investing, is the waiting” !

Allan
January 15, 2022

"[...] 'What good is health, you can't buy money with it.' [...]". True, but without health, when your time comes, and you've finally 'bought it' (after it "Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!" [Rabbie Burns]), you won't even be able to 'cash in ya chips'.

Graham W
January 14, 2022



Human nature doesn't change much does it. Samuel Johnson said famously, ‘I can give you an argument, but I can't give you an understanding.’" This certainly applies to the anti vaccination mob.

Michael
January 13, 2022

Loved the comments on compensation consultants.

If only our company remuneration committees has the intelligence to think outside the square and fix the ongoing disconnect between remuneration and performance evident in many companies using the same formulaic approach to executive salaries.

Dave
January 13, 2022

Great quotes. A really enjoyable read.

 

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