Old men and obituaries: Looking back, short and long term
Last week legendary investor Charlie Munger died at the ripe old age of 99. Born in Omaha like Warren Buffet, the two were key to the success of their firm Berkshire Hathaway. Unassuming men, they hold a special space in the stock market annals because of their prowess. This success is often held up as proof of superior intelligence and willpower mixed with a sprinkling of fairy dust.
I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the capitalist world where wealth often caps most other attributes. Younger versions of this duo include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his warehouse to sailing and space exploration ventures (note to self: Virgin’s Richard Branson beat him to it) and self-promoter Elon Musk who has similar ambitions with SpaceX.
Interesting to note how many of these men are attracted by the letter ‘X’. A decade ago Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s empire crashed, led by mining, oil and gas operations at OGX, LLX and holding company EBX. He said that the ‘X’ stood for the multiplication of wealth. More recently American Sam Bankman-Fried and his FTX financial exchange imploded dragged down by his Alameda Research investment arm. So much for big brains generating outstanding returns.
The wealthy often channel their gains into foundations and other philanthropic pursuits. None other than old boy J P Morgan at his Morgan Library in New York currently has an exhibition running until the 10th March 2024 entitled ‘Medieval Money, Merchants and Morality’. It focuses on the ‘anxieties of affluence’ according to Ariella Budick of the Financial Times. She continues, ‘some of the same wild claims and opprobrium that swirl around crypto currency today applied to physical currency then’.
Emma-Lou Montgomery, financial commentator at Fidelity, has ‘a sobering read for your Christmas list’. A book by Peter Turchin called ‘End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration’. Loosely based on the idea that history moves in 50-year cycles, it attempts to sum up the current state of play where he feels that inequality and lack of good work prospects creates a society that descends into violence.
By the way, FX makes no claims as a money multiplier (though many a young man believes trading this financial market will not only make him wealthy, but also a ‘master of the universe’. FX stands for Forex, AKA foreign exchange.
Tags: greed, Investing, multiplier, risk
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