Charlie Munger Says Failed Casino Owner Shouldn’t Be President

Charlie Munger thought failed casino owner President Trump should never ever be president. According to Bloomberg, at the 2016 Daily Journal Corp’s shareholders meeting, Munger declared,

Munger, 92, responded to a question Wednesday at the annual meeting of his Daily Journal Corp. about whether a person who couldn’t make money in the gaming industry would be a good fit for the top office in the U.S.

“Well, he did make money for quite a while,” Munger said. “My attitude is that anybody who makes money running a casino is not morally qualified.”

Swearing: The Foul Mouthed are to Be Pitied

Parents and teachers do their best to stop kids from swearing and using profane language. Yet, people resort to foul language, and it’s repellent. Jeff Minick, writes at the Intellectual Takeout commentary website:

When I was a boy, my mother told me several times that men and women who habitually used profanity or obscenities were to be pitied. “People who talk that way don’t know how to express themselves,” she said. “They’re just displaying their own ignorance and their limited vocabulary.”

Jeff Bezos’s Frugality: Desks Made Out of Doors

Andreesen Horowitz venture capitalist Ben Horowitz comments on Jeff Bezos’s frugality:

Very early on, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, envisioned a company that made money by delivering value to rather than extracting value from its customers. In order to do that, he wanted to be both the price and customer service leader for the long run. You can’t do that if you waste a lot of money. Jeff could have spent years auditing every expense and raining hell on anybody who overspent, but he decided to build frugality into his culture. He did it with an incredibly simple mechanism: all desks at Amazon.com for all time would be built by buying cheap doors from The Home Depot and nailing legs to them. These door desks are not great ergonomically nor do they fit with Amazon.com’s $100+ billion market capitalization, but when a shocked new employee asks why she must work on a makeshift desk constructed out of random Home Depot parts, the answer comes back with withering consistency: “We look for every opportunity to save money so that we can deliver the best products for the lowest cost.” If you don’t like sitting at a door, then you won’t last long at Amazon.

Shared-Hardship People Model for Businesses in a Recession

Charlie Munger said at the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting:

Some of our businesses have a shared-hardship model, where they don’t layoff, at least not yet. And the businesses with that model tend to be very strongly placed economically. So I guess it shows that Benjamin Franklin was right, when he said, ‘It’s hard for an empty sack to stand upright.’ So we’re all over the map on that, and so is all of industry. But I do think an ideal model would be a business so strong that it could operate in the shared-hardship mode instead of the layoffs.

Warren Buffett agreed,

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Yeah, some are doing that, where you give up hours. But a lot of operations don’t lend themselves to that very well, either. So…in other cases, you basically have to close down whole plants. That’s just the nature of it. You really can’t operate every plant at 50 percent and have it work as effectively as shutting down the least-productive plants.

Intelligent Investing is Value Investing

Charlie Munger at the 2000 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting:

All intelligent investing is value investing. You have to acquire more than you really pay for, and that’s a value judgment. But you can look for more than you’re paying for in a lot of different ways. You can use filters to sift the investment universe. And if you stick with stocks that can’t possibly be wonderful to just put away in your safe deposit box for 40 years, but are underpriced, then you have to keep moving around all the time. As they get closer to what you think the real value is, you have to sell them, and then find others. And so, it’s an active kind of investing. The investing where you find a few great companies and just sit on your ass because you’ve correctly predicted the future, that is what it’s very nice to be good at.

Fleeting and Impermanent

Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes in The Places That Scare You: a Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (2017):

When I first heard this teaching it seemed academic and remote. But when I was encouraged to pay attention – to be curious about what was happening with my body and my mind – something shifted. I could observe from my own experience that nothing is static. My moods are continuously shifting like the weather. I am definitely not in control of what thoughts or emotions are going to arise, nor can I halt their flow. Stillness is followed by movement, movement flows back into stillness. Even the most persistent physical pain, when I pay attention to it, changes like the tides.

I feel gratitude to the Buddha for pointing out that what we struggle against all our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Life does continually go up and down. People and situations are unpredictable and so is everything else. Everybody knows the pain of getting what we don’t want: saints, sinners, winners, losers. I feel gratitude that someone saw the truth and pointed out that we don’t suffer this kind of pain because of our personal inability to get things right.

That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything – every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate – is always changing, moment to moment. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that…

We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it. We want permanence; we expect permanence. Our natural tendency is to seek security; we believe we can find it. We experience impermanence at the everyday level as frustration. We use our daily activity as a shield against the fundamental ambiguity of our situation, expending tremendous energy trying to ward off impermanence and death. We don’t like it that our bodies change shape. We don’t like it that we age. We are afraid of wrinkles and sagging skin. We use health products as if we actually believe that our skin, our hair, our eyes and teeth, might somehow miraculously escape the truth of impermanence.

The Buddhist teachings aspire to set us free from this limited way of relating. They encourage us to relax gradually and wholeheartedly into the ordinary and obvious truth of change. Acknowledging this truth doesn’t mean that we’re looking on the dark side. What it means is that we begin to understand that we’re not the only one who can’t keep it all together. We no longer believe that there are people who have managed to avoid uncertainty.

Turn Your Marketing Funnel Upside Down

Seth Godin presents a marketing lesson from the apocalypse:

Too often marketers take a product and try to invent a campaign. Much more effective is to find a tribe, find a story and make a product that resonates, one that makes the story work. That’s the whole thing. A story that resonates and a tribe that’s tight and small and eager.

The Tragedy of Richard Rainwater’s Incurable Brain Illness

Peter Elkind, Patricia Sellers, and Doris Burke comment about investor and Texas billionaire Richard Rainwater’s incurable brain illness in Fortune:

PSP [Progressive Supranuclear Palsy] is a fast-moving, degenerative brain disease, with no treatment and no cure. The typical life expectancy from diagnosis: 4 1/2 years. “In the world I live in,” the doctor told Rainwater’s friends and family, “this is the worst disease I see.”

Of all life’s cruelties, it seems especially tragic that Richard Rainwater would suffer from this affliction. Rainwater is a self-made billionaire, a Texas incarnation of the Horatio Alger story. But he hasn’t built a chain of discount stores or a computer company or even a private equity firm to leave behind. No, Rainwater’s business genius has always been his energy and imagination—his uncanny ability to see where the world is going and find a way to exploit that turn. It was his personal magic that made big deals happen: his ability to pick the right opportunity, the right partners, the right CEO, and then to provide inspiration. The billion-dollar edifice he built was all in his head.

And now it’s crumbling away.

Today Rainwater requires 24-hour care. He is unable to walk unassisted. He has trouble swallowing. His speech is almost impossible to understand.

The Real Impact of High Fees in Investing

Charlie Munger at the Daily Journal Meeting 2019:

If you make 5% and pay two of it to your advisors, you’re not losing 40% of your future. You’re losing 90%. Because over a long period of time, that little difference causes a 90% disadvantage to you. So it’s hugely important for somebody who’s a long term holder not to be paying a big annual toll out of the performance.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary on Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic Seeking Government Aid

Travel blogger Ben Schlappig, of One Mile at a Time, notes comments by Michael O’Leary, the outrageously funny and candid CEO of Ryanair.

On Lufthansa applying for state aid, O’Leary said:

Lufthansa is like a crack cocaine junkie looking for state aid. They’re already getting huge payroll support from the Germany government. What do you need more state aid for? We don’t have many other costs at the moment because we’re all grounded. They see this as an opportunity to get one last huge quantity of state aid so they can go around and buy up everyone when this is all over.

On Virgin Atlantic’s bailout request made by Richard Branson, O’Leary said:

Virgin Atlantic is ridiculous. This is Branson’s second go at trying to fleece the British taxpayer for state aid. He tried this with Flybe. Now you have Virgin Atlantic, owned by Delta and a Caribbean island based non-resident billionaire. Frankly if he’s worried about Virgin he should write the check himself. It’s not like he’s short of money. Sitting in the Virgin Islands as a tax exile asking the British government to bail you out when you have more than sufficient resources to bail out Virgin Atlantic yourself isn’t something that should be considered.