Monday, November 17, 2008
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
“I think there is something happening in the American marketplace that has to be stopped,” Byrne said. “When it comes to light it’s going to make Enron look like a tea-party.” [Emphasis added.] —Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne in “Insights from an Outsider” by Chase Christiansen, from Weber State University address, Nov. 6, 2008.
Chapter 28: A Convulsion That Makes Enron Look like a Tea Party—From “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett” (eBooks on Investing, 2011).
On the one hand, we’re delighted Byrne read the book. On the other hand, we’re disappointed he doesn’t seem to be giving given credit where it properly belongs. That is, to Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, who made the Enron comment at last May’s annual shareholder meeting.
Here’s how we wrote about it in “Secrets”:
The questions have been uniformly friendly…. But when Buffett calls on the twenty-fourth question of the day, the pleasant mood quickly changes.
“I’m Dr. Silber of the Infertility Center of St. Louis,” the man starts off, in a bright, friendly voice. The arena collectively freezes. Here we go: the abortion question….
But the doctor isn’t going there at all. “We have three candidates, all of whom seem to be pandering to voters,” Dr. Silber says, referring to the presidential election campaign now in full swing. “What would you do as president?”…
Munger speaks in his crisp, didactic fashion. “I’d like to address the recent turmoil and its relation to politics…. We have had a convulsion that makes Enron look like a tea party,” he says. “Human nature always has these incentives to rationalize and misbehave. We’re going to have turmoil as far ahead as you can see.”
—Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger, quoted by Jeff Matthews in “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett”. Emphasis added.
It is, indeed, a great line.
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Posted by Jeff Matthews at 8:39 AM