It personally gives me an edge when other people are not paying attention to reading and thinking, and are instead on their phones. It means that I gain knowledge from reading a few 10-K’s while others are tweeting what they had for breakfast.
I don’t like to opine on the stock market, and again I emphasize that I have no idea what the market will do in the short term. Nevertheless, I’ll follow the lead of a restaurant that opened in an empty bank building and then advertised : “Put your mouth where your money was.” Today my money and my mouth both say equities.
Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.
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. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.
Volatility caused by money managers who speculate irrationality with huge sums will offer the true investor more chance to make intelligent investment moves. He can be hurt by such volatility only if he is forced, by either financial or psychological pressures, to sell at untoward times.
Despite our policy of candor, we will discuss our activities in marketable securities only to the extent legally required. Good investment ideas are rare, valuable and subject to competitive appropriation just as good product or business acquisition ideas are.
The best thing is to learn from other guy’s mistakes. Patton used to say, “It’s an honor to die for your country ; make sure the other guy gets the honor.” There are a lot of mistakes that I’ve repeated. The biggest one, the biggest category over time, is being reluctant to pay up a little for a business that I knew was really outstanding.
In the 54 years (Charlie Munger and I) have worked together, we have never forgone an attractive purchase because of the macro or political environment, or the views of other people. In fact, these subjects never come up when we make decisions.
By the age of 10, I’d read every book in the Omaha public library about investing, some twice. You need to fill your mind with various competing thoughts and decide which make sense. Then you have to jump in the water – take a small amount of money and do it yourself. Investing on paper is like reading a romance novel vs. doing something else. You’ll soon find out whether you like it. The earlier you start, the better.