Investment Aphorisms

16 years ago   •   2 min read

By Marcia Kadanoff

American Superior

For those of us not in know (I admit I had to look this up in Wikipedia) … an aphorism is defined as a universal truth expressed in an unusually pithy form, generally something that only someone with a lot of experience can express, not to be confused with an axiom. Whereas an axiom is an assertion that is generally regarded as true that it does not require a proof. And now you know. (My aphorism is below right after Milton Friedman.)

…that best portion of a good man’s life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.—Lines composed on the Banks of the Wye – 7/13/1798 by William Wordsworth [Poet, 1770-1850]

#21: If it is possible to bring about a cure by means of foods or healthful nourishment, do not administer drugs as these–especially those that purge–are contrary to nature and are her enemies.—Aphorisms of Abu Jacob Ishak ben Soleiman El-Israeli, also known as Isaac Judaeus [Physician, 830-932]

America’s #1 Killer? Retirement… no one gets out of it alive—Anonymous

A crowd is at the mercy of all external exciting causes, the slave of the impulses which it receives.—Gustav Le Bon, French social observer, psychologist, amateur scientist (1841-1931). Author of The Crowd, which cut a path for the creation of 20th Century political propaganda and racial superiority theories.

The largest shape is without border, the largest noise is without sound, and the grandest story is without words.—Chinese aphorism based in Taoism; a focus of Zhang Jie’s book “Without Words”

[The Japanese] are extremely good imitators – and so polite they even copy the mistakes.—Earl Scruggs (1924- ), Bluegrass musician, Banjo aficionado from North Carolina

In all games the difference between the amateur and the professional is that the professional plays the odds, while the amateur, whether he realizes it or not, is among other things a thrill seeker—John Train (1928- ), Foreword to The Craft of Investing, 1994

In a “winner’s game”, the player who makes the most points wins. In a “loser’s game”, the player who makes the fewest mistakes wins. The best strategy for winning a loser’s game is to lose less. In a loser’s game, you play conservative and give your opponent as many opportunities to blunder as possible.—paraphrased from Charles Ellis’ Financial Analysts Journal article “The Loser’s Game”, 1975

If a consumer finds he’s being sold rotten meat at the grocery store, he has the very best (consumer) protection agency available: the market.—Milton Friedman (1912-2006), 1973 Playboy interview

Ultimately, commoditization means competing on price alone, which isn’t really competing at all. It’s just an endless game of “who can make and sell it cheaper.” Commodity products have little intelligence built into them, and your customers have little loyalty. If the next guy can make it more cheaply, they’re gone. And so are you.—May 2004 weblog by marketing firm Firewhite (founder Marcia Kadanoff)

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