During the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, Charles Munger and Warren Buffett discussed the benefits of value investing and the misery associated with misusing stocks. Here’s an excerpt from the meeting:
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. There’s a certain irony, in that we will — we would — do the best, over decades, if we operated in a market where people operated very foolishly.
And the more people respond to short term events and exaggerated things or — anything that causes people to get wildly enthusiastic or wildly depressed, actually, is what allows people to make lots of money in securities.
And, on the other hand, it’s not the greatest thing for a society. And Charlie and I have benefited enormously by the fact that over a 50-year period, there have been a few periods, probably the most extraordinary being 1973 and ’74, where you could buy stocks unbelievably cheap, cheaper than happened in 2008 and 2009.
And, you know, it doesn’t make sense to have that much volatility in the market, but humans behave the way humans behave, and they’re going to continue to behave that way in the next 50 years.
I mean, if you’re a young investor, and you can sort of stand back and value stocks as businesses and invest when things are very cheap, no matter what anybody is saying on television or what you’re reading, and perhaps, if you wish, sell when people get terribly enthused, it is really not a very tough intellectual game. It’s an easy game, if you can control your emotions.
And as Charlie says, we’ve talked about a little bit that the Chinese market may be more — there may be more speculative influences in it, even than in the United States, because it’s a relatively new development and it may lend itself to greater extremes, and that should produce great opportunities. Charlie?
CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah. But there’s great opportunities for excess and nasty contractions after unnatural booms and so on.
I think China is wise to dampen the speculative booms and to — and I think the Chinese — I don’t think that value investing will ever go out of style. Who in the hell doesn’t want value when you buy something? How can there be anything else that makes any sense except value investing?
WARREN BUFFETT: It never gets that popular though. (Laughs)
CHARLIE MUNGER: People are looking for an easier way.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah.
CHARLIE MUNGER: And that’s a mistake. It looks easier, but, in fact, it’s harder. And there’s a lot of misery to be obtained by misusing stocks.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. Nobody buys a farm to make a lot of money next week or next month, or they buy, you know, an apartment house. They buy it based on what they think the long-term future is. And if they get a — if they make a reasoned calculation of that and the purchase price looks attractive, they buy it and then they don’t get a quote on it every day or every week or every month or even every year, and that’s probably a better way to look at stocks.
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