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Weekend reading: Capitalism without failure is like religion without hell. RIP Charlie Munger

What caught my eye this week.

Unfortunately one of my investing heroes, Charlie Munger, died this week. And he had the temerity to do it on a Tuesday.

Which means that by now those of you who’ve heard of him – let alone admired the man – will have been mainlining Munger quotes for five days straight.

Meanwhile the rest of you either never of heard of Warren Buffett’s best friend until this week, or you’ve probably heard enough of him by now.

Ho hum – I have to write something. Feel free to skip to the links!

Grumpy old man

You see, Charlie Munger has felt weirdly important in my life for the past couple of decades.

Perhaps it’s because I read The Snowball and Damn Right when my father was in the intensive care ward that he would only leave as an utterly changed man.

Munger somehow spoke to me when he said:

You should never, when facing some unbelievable tragedy, let one tragedy increase into two or three through your failure of will.”

The financial crisis was raging outside. Lehman Brothers had just collapsed. I learned about that in a copy of the FT purchased in the hospital’s WH Smiths.

I was angry with the world that my father was going out like this, after living such a dutiful life.

And so I did what anybody would do. I got out my smartphone and tried to figure out how quickly I would need to compound my wealth to catch-up with where Charlie and Warren were at my age.

It already looked pretty futile. Almost without adjusting for inflation…

Charlie joked – when recently divorced and impecunious – that he drove a beaten-up car to “keep away the gold diggers.”

And after complications with a cataract surgery had left him in agony in one of his eyes, he had the eye ground out.

My dad would never see me ‘make it’, I realised, as if he cared about that.

Compounding takes too long.

You should never, when facing some unbelievable tragedy…”

Tell us another one

You might be expecting me to here say something about how Munger’s investing wisdom – which I’ve gulped down as freely as the next stock-picking junkie – gave me the conviction to buy shares in X, or to understand that I should do more of Y and much less Z when I allocate my money.

Yada, yada, yada.

Dozens of articles claimed as much this week. Some were surely sincere, but I have my doubts about most.

I know personally a couple of the hundreds of writer-investors who wrote their own Munger memorials.

And honestly, if Munger influenced them then it must have been with his fashion sense because I’ve never detected it in their investing.

But I don’t say that to be bitchy. I do believe many of them really were touched by Munger’s passing.

You see, for nerds like them, me – us – Charlie Munger was more like a rockstar than a textbook.

Oh yes, everyone says they learned from him. But what they really mean is they liked his funny zingers.

They also liked that he’d seemingly gotten so rich on his own terms, while saying whatever he liked.

And that he made it look easy – because most of us turned up in the final act.

They didn’t hear his famous quips by sitting through five-hour Berkshire Hathaway meetings.

And certainly not his mock curmudgeonly pronouncements made at the AGMs for his own pet enterprise, The Daily Journal.

They mostly heard of the witty things said by Munger many years later, in articles that collated the witty things said by Charlie Munger.

Munger’s zingers were indeed quality. There’s a collection or two in the links below.

I have nothing further to add

No, for many active investing enthusiasts, the death of Munger is more akin to the death of David Bowie.

You remember the outpouring when Bowie died?

Cynthia, now 71-years old, says the androgynous Bowie gave her the freedom to live life on her own terms. The former estate agent and mother-of-three never forgot the moment when the drug-taking musical genius looked out at 25,000 awestruck fans and possibly caught her eye in 1972. It’s a story Cynthia often tells the other ladies at the Rotary Club in Tunbridge Wells. But Cynthia hopes to have a new tale to tell soon, as she plans to make a pilgrimage to London next month, to drive past the Bowie mural in Brixton on her way to see her son-in-law, Richard, who is living in Wimbledon.

Yes I’m being facetious. Good for Cynthia. And good for me and all Munger’s fans.

Some people make the world bigger for the rest of us simply by being in it.

David Bowie. Charlie Munger.

Have a great weekend.

From Monevator

Best S&P 500 ETFs and index funds – Monevator

What cheap investment trust should I buy next? – Monevator [Mogul members]

From the archive-ator: There are many ways to be an investor – Monevator

News

Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.

House prices advancing after pause in rate hikes, says Nationwide – Sky

Leasehold ban not included in housing reform law – BBC

SIPP holders to get cash warnings and be offered default funds – MoneyWeek

EIS and VCT income tax relief extended until 2035 – Baker Tilly

Next-gen billionaires to collect more from inheritance than wealth, says UBS – Guardian

Crypto Kings dethroned as crackdown sweeps away old guard [Search result]FT

Sir James Dyson loses libel case against Daily MirrorThis Is Money

The climate crisis explained in ten charts – Guardian

Products and services

How to get the best deal on a Christmas tree this weekend – Guardian

Registration date for new free childcare scheme announced – Which

Gap between easy access and one-year fixed savings just 0.6% – This Is Money

Get £100-£200 cashback when you open an account with Interactive Investor. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

FCA announce anti-greenwashing rules for investments, savings and more – Which

How to get up to three lots from Nationwide’s £200 switching offer – Be Clever With Your Cash

Open an account with low-cost platform InvestEngine via our link and get up to £50 when you invest at least £100 (T&Cs apply. Capital at risk) – InvestEngine

Robinhood set to launch trading app in UK. Again… – This Is Money

Happy 35th birthday to fixed-rate mortgages – This Is Money

Chic city centre flats for sale, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

Divorce: do the numbers still add up? [Search result]FT

Four index funds control 25% of the US market. Problematic? [Podcast]A.L.T.I.F.

Withdrawal symptoms – Humble Dollar

How the market shapes your portfolio – A Wealth of Common Sense

What’s really driving inflation and bond yields? [US but relevant]Morningstar

The ‘What I Don’t Want’ list – Mr Stingy

The problem with being a long-term investor – Financial Samurai

Cocaine hippopotamuses [US tax detail but relevant]Fortunes & Frictions

Solving the wrong problem – Of Dollars and Data

Don’t buy and sell stocks. Just hold – New York Times [h/t Abnormal Returns]

How target-date funds stabilise markets [US but interesting]Morningstar

Not long remembered – Humble Dollar

Most Americans are better off financially than before the pandemic – SAHM

Naughty corner: Active antics

Berkshire Hathaway’s success will continue after Munger (and Buffett) – Morningstar

HMRC urges crypto holders to disclose gains [Search result]FT

RIP Charlie Munger mini-special

Charlie Munger, investing genius, dies at age 99 – CNBC

Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway vice-chair, 1924-2023 – Financial Times

The advice Charlie Munger gave Warren Buffett: live life backwards – CNBC

Charlie Munger – Buggy Humans in a Messy World

‘Take a simple idea and take it seriously’ [Search result]FT

Investing and life lessons from Munger [Podcast] – Motley Fool via Apple

Charlie’s last interview with CNBC at 99 – via Acquirer’s Multiple

Nine of Munger’s best lessons and words of wisdom – Morningstar

44 more quotes [aka Mungerisms. Rest well Charlie]Yahoo Finance

Kindle book bargains

When McKinsey Comes to Town by Walt Bogdanich – £0.99 on Kindle

The Birth of Netflix by Marc Randolph – £0.99 on Kindle

A Kidnap Negotiator’s Guide to Influence and Persuasion by Scott Walker – £0.99 on Kindle

Dead In The Water by Matthew Campbell – £2.59 on Kindle

Environmental factors

How to make pets more environmentally-friendly – BBC

Why nature-based solutions are crucial to fighting the climate crisis – Guardian

How COP28 can help readers and itself [Search result]FT

During Covid-19 lockdowns, fish hit the park – Hakai

BA and Virgin Atlantic face formal complaints over sustainability claims – Guardian

Robot overlord roundup

Humanity will just have to trust Sam Altman now – Slate

Introduction to large language models [Video] – Andrej Karpathy via YouTube

Off our beat

Frugal versus independent – Morgan Housel

To achieve your dreams you have to be a little crazy – Darius Foroux

Rating year-ahead reports on their stock picture choices [Search result]FT

How time outdoors improves memory, imagination, and logic – Guardian

The train wrecked in slow motion [Warning: childbirth trauma]Slate

Pontins: what happened to the former UK holiday park giant? – BBC

Harder than it looks – We Are Gonna Get Those Bastards

And finally…

“Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.”
– Charlie Munger

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The post Weekend reading: Capitalism without failure is like religion without hell. RIP Charlie Munger appeared first on Monevator.

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