Read an Excerpt
Tao of Charlie Munger
“The desire to get rich fast is pretty dangerous.”
Trying to get rich fast is dangerous because we have to gamble on the short-term price direction of some stock or other asset. There are a huge number of people trying to do the same thing, many of whom are much better informed than we are. The short-term price direction of any security or derivative contract is subject to all kinds of wild price swings due to events that have nothing to do with the actual long-term value of the underlying business or asset. Last but not least, there is the problem of leverage: to get rich quickly, one often has to use leverage/debt to amplify small price swings into really huge gains. If things go against us, they can also turn into really large losses. So we take a leveraged position in a stock, thinking we are going to hit it big; then something terrible like 9/11 happens, the stock market tanks, and we get wiped out. In his early days, Charlie did use a lot of leverage on his stock arbitrage investments, but as he got older he saw the grave danger he was putting himself in and now passionately avoids using debt and bets only on the long-term economics of a business, not the short-term price swings of its stock price.