Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Quotes of 2016

Here's a collection of quotes said or written at some point during 2015.

Buffett on Stock-Based Compensation
"...it has become common for managers to tell their owners to ignore certain expense items that are all too real. 'Stock-based compensation' is the most egregious example. The very name says it all: 'compensation.' If compensation isn't an expense, what is it? And, if real and recurring expenses don’t belong in the calculation of earnings, where in the world do they belong?

Wall Street analysts often play their part in this charade, too, parroting the phony, compensation-ignoring 'earnings' figures fed them by managements. Maybe the offending analysts don’t know any better. Or maybe they fear losing 'access' to management. Or maybe they are cynical, telling themselves that since everyone else is playing the game, why shouldn’t they go along with it. Whatever their reasoning, these analysts are guilty of propagating misleading numbers that can deceive investors." - Warren Buffett

Bezos: The "Inseparable Twins" of Failure and Invention
"...corporate cultures...are enduring, stable, hard to change. They can be a source of advantage or disadvantage. You can write down your corporate culture, but when you do so, you're discovering it, uncovering it – not creating it. It is created slowly over time by the people and by events – by the stories of past success and failure that become a deep part of the company lore. If it's a distinctive culture, it will fit certain people like a custom-made glove. The reason cultures are so stable in time is because people self-select. Someone energized by competitive zeal may select and be happy in one culture, while someone who loves to pioneer and invent may choose another. The world, thankfully, is full of many high-performing, highly distinctive corporate cultures. We never claim that our approach is the right one – just that it's ours – and over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful.

One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there." - Jeff Bezos

Buffett: The "Double-Barrel Effect"
"The ideal business is one that takes no capital but yet grows...if you have a business that grows, and gives you a lot of money every year, and...it [capital] isn't required in its growth, you get a double-barrel effect: from the earnings growth that occurs internally without the use of capital, and then you get the capital it produces to go and buy other businesses.

And See's Candy was a good example of that." - Warren Buffett

Berkshire 2016 Meeting: Charlie Munger Highlights - Part I

"...looking back, I don't regret that I didn't make more money or become better known, or any of those things. I do regret that I didn't wise up as fast as I could have — but there's a blessing in that, too. Now that I'm 92, I still have a lot of ignorance left to work on." - Charlie Munger

"...every person has to have about eight or ten glasses of water every day to stay alive...and it improves life to add a little extra flavor to your water -- a little stimulation, and a few calories if you want to eat that way. There are huge benefits to humanity in that and it's worth having some disadvantages. We ought to almost have a law...where these people shouldn't be allowed to cite the defect without also citing the advantage. It's immature and stupid."

"Well, there could hardly be anything more important [than microeconomics]....Business and microeconomics are sort of the same term. Microeconomics is what we do and macroeconomics is what we put up with." - Charlie Munger

Berkshire 2016 Meeting: Charlie Munger Highlights - Part II
"We try to avoid the worst anchoring effect, which is always your previous conclusion. We really try and destroy our previous ideas." - Charlie Munger

"What you've got to do is be aversive to the standard stupidities. If you just keep those out, you don't have to be smart." - Charlie Munger

"...sometimes when you reduce volume it is very intelligent because you're losing money on the volume you're discarding. It's quite common for a business not only to have more employees than it needs, but it sometimes has two or three customers that could be better off without. So it's hard to judge from outside whether things are good or bad just because volume is going up or down a little." - Charlie Munger

"I don't think anybody really knows much about negative interest rates...None of the great economists who studied this stuff and taught it to our children understand it either...our advantage is that we know we don't understand it." - Charlie Munger

Buffett on Active Investing
"Supposedly sophisticated people, generally richer people, hire consultants, and no consultant in the world is going to tell you 'just buy an S&P index fund and sit for the next 50 years.' You don't get to be a consultant that way. And you certainly don't get an annual fee that way. So the consultant has every motivation in the world to tell you, 'this year I think we should concentrate more on international stocks,' or 'this manager is particularly good on the short side,' and so they come in and they talk for hours, and you pay them a large fee, and they always suggest something other than just sitting on your rear end and participating in the American business without cost. And then those consultants, after they get their fees, they in turn recommend to you other people who charge fees, which... cumulatively eat up capital like crazy." - Warren Buffett

Bogle & Buffett on Frictional Costs
"We have two [investment] managers at Berkshire. They each manage $9 billion for us. They both ran hedge funds before. If they had a 2/20 arrangement with Berkshire, which is not uncommon in the hedge fund world, they would be getting $180 million annually each merely for breathing. It's a compensation scheme that is unbelievable to me..." - Warren Buffett

Happy New Year,

Adam

Quotes of 2015 
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