Charlie Munger: 2 Hour Interview - Opportunity and the Black Death

by Geoff Gannon

Becky Quick interviewed Warren Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger, for two hours at the University of Michigan. Tariq Ali of Street Capitalist has the link.

Warren Buffett is gun scope focused on making money. Charlie Munger, like Benjamin Graham, scans a wider field of vision. Also like Benjamin Graham, Charlie Munger talks a lot about professional ethics. He blames accountants for Enron and says Arthur Andersen got what it deserved.  He talks about how his dad almost lied on a hunting license to save five dollars. Why? Because he was with friends who were lying on theirs. The moral of the story: avoid temptation. And learn psychology. A good place to start is Poor Charlie's Almanack.

On opportunities, Charlie quotes his great-grandfather, a pioneer and banker who fought in the Black Hawk War:

“When you find one, my dear grandchildren, and you can clearly recognize it, seize it boldly and don’t do it small.”

Seizing opportunities is Charlie’s best advice.  What's his best quote?

"The Black Death was good for the survivors."

The Black Death was a 1300s plague that killed 30% to 50% of all Europeans. It cut the ropes of the rigid labor market that tied down Europe’s economy.

I know what you’re thinking. With unemployment at 9.6%, we could use a plague. It’s nature’s own stimulus package.

Like wars, plagues always kill but seldom stimulate. The Roman plague of the 160s killed millions and did nothing for the economy.

Besides, quantitative easing is more sanitary.