The Greatest Investment Quotes of All Time

Below you will find a list of the greatest investing quotes of all time, sourced (where possible) and organized by category.  Enjoy!


Controlling Emotions/Psychology

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds.  It will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

-Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

 

“Fear incites human action far more urgently than does the impressive weight of historical evidence.”

-Jeremy Siegel, Stocks for the Long Run (3rd Edition)

 

“If you’re not willing to react with equanimity to a market price decline of 50% two or three times a century, you’re not fit to be a common shareholder and you deserve the mediocre result you’re going to get.”

-Charlie Munger, Interview with BBC

 

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘This time it’s different.'”

-Sir John Templeton, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary

 

“The game of professional investment is intolerably boring and overreacting to anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll.”

-John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

 

“If you don’t know who you are, this is an expensive place to find out.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game

 

“Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies.  And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.”

-Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway 2004 Letter to Shareholders

 

“Wall Street sells stocks and bonds, but what it really peddles is hope.”

-Jason Zweig, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary

 

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.”

-Paul Samuelson

 

“I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

-Isaac Newton, The Royal Society 

 

“The investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.”

-Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

 

“Wealth isn’t primarily determined by investment performance, but by investor behavior.”

-Nick Murray, Simple Wealth Inevitable Wealth


Humor

“A bull market is like sex.  It feels best just before it ends.”

-Barton Biggs, Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Letter to Shareholders

 

“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially with regards to the future.”

-Old Proverb, The Most Important Thing

 

 “We are fond of saying that if these strategies are truly horribly overcrowded then someone has apparently forgotten to tell the prices.”

-Clifford Asness, We’re Not Dead Yet

 

“The first rule of investment is: Don’t Lose.  And the second rule of investment is: Don’t forget the first rule.”

-Warren Buffett, How to Pick Stocks & Get Rich, PBS (1985)

 

“I put two children through Harvard by trading options.  Unfortunately, they were my broker’s children.”

-Jason Zweig, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary

 

“If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.”

-Richard Branson, Harvard Business Review

 

“If it flies, floats, or fornicates, always rent it—it’s cheaper in the long run.”

-Felix Dennis, How to Get Rich

 

“There seems to be an unwritten rule on Wall Street:  If you don’t understand it, then put your life savings into it.”

-Peter Lynch, One Up on Wall Street

 

“If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem.  If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

-Old Proverb, Quote Investigator


Risk

“I tell my father’s story of the gambler who lost regularly.  One day he hears about a race with only one horse in it, so he bet the rent money.  Halfway around the track, the horse jumped over the fence and ran away.”

-Howard Marks, The Most Important Thing

 

“Risk and time are opposite sides of the same coin, for if there were no tomorrow there would be no risk.  Time transforms risk, and the nature of risk is shaped by the time horizon: the future is the playing field.”

-Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods

 

“Large price changes tend to be followed by more large changes, positive or negative.  Small changes tend to be followed by more small changes.  Volatility clusters.”

-Benoit B. Mandlebrot, The Misbehavior of Markets

 

“Markets look a lot less efficient from the banks of the Hudson than from the banks of the Charles.”

-Fischer Black, Against the Gods

 

“Liquidity is only there when you don’t need it.”

-Old Proverb, The Devil’s Financial Dictionary

 

“Risk cannot be eliminated; it just gets transferred and spread.”

-Howard Marks, The Most Important Thing

 

“There is no such thing as no risk.  There’s only this choice of what to risk, and when to risk it.”

-Nick Murray, Simple Wealth Inevitable Wealth

 

“Survival is the only road to riches.  You should try to maximize return only if losses would not threaten your survival and if you have a compelling future need for the extra gains you might earn.”

-Peter L. Bernstein, Interview with Jason Zweig (2004)


Trading/Market Timing

“The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

-A. Gary Shilling/Unknown, Quote Investigator

 

“Remember that stocks are never too high for you to begin buying or too low to begin selling.”

-Jesse Livermore, Reminiscences of a Stock Market Operator

 

“The most dangerous people in the world are very smart traders who have never gotten their teeth kicked in.”

-F. Helmut Weymar, More Money Than God

 

“We are all at a wonderful ball where the champagne sparkles in every glass and soft laughter falls upon the summer air.  We know, by the rules, that at some moment, the Black Horseman will come shattering through the great terrace doors, wreaking vengeance and scattering the survivors. 

Those who leave early are saved, but the ball is so splendid no one wants to leave while there is still time, so that everyone keeps asking, ‘What time is it?  What time is it?’  But none of the clocks have any hands.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), Supermoney

 

“The trend has vanished, killed by its very discovery.”

-Benoit B. Mandlebrot, The Misbehavior of Markets

 

“More people lost money waiting for corrections and anticipating corrections than the actual corrections.”

-Peter Lynch, Interview with Fidelity (2019)

 

“When the Rothschilds got the word about the battle of Waterloo—in the movie it was by carrier pigeon—they didn’t rush down and buy British consols, the government bonds.  They rushed in and sold, and then, in the panic, they bought.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game

 

“The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.”

-Baron Rothschild

 

“It is my conclusion that the successful investor must [have] … patience to wait for the right moment—courage to buy or sell when the time arrives—and liquid capital.

-Benjamin Roth, The Great Depression: A Diary

 

“What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end.”

-Old ProverbBerkshire Hathaway 2011 Letter to Shareholders

 

“The additional rise of this stock above the true capital will be only imaginary; one added to one, by any rules of vulgar arithmetic, will never make three and a half; consequently, all the fictitious value must be a loss to some persons or other, first or last.  The only way to prevent it oneself must be to sell out betimes, and so let the Devil take the hindmost.”

-Anonymous PamphleteerDevil Take the Hindmost

 

“The irony is that this is a money game and money is the way we keep score. But the real object of the Game is not money, but it is the playing of the Game itself. For the true players, you could take all the trophies away and substitute plastic beads or whale’s teeth; as long as there is a way to keep score, they will play.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game

 

“In bear markets, stocks return to their rightful owners.”

-Old Proverb


Money & Lifestyle

“I have known a lot of investors who came to the market to make money, and they told themselves that what they wanted was the money: security, a trip around the world, a new sloop, a country estate, an art collection, a Caribbean house for cold winters.  And they succeeded.  So they sat on the dock of the Caribbean home, chatting with their art dealers and gazing fondly at the new sloop, and after a while it was a bit flat.  Something was missing.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game

 

“The market’s not a very accommodating machine; it won’t provide high returns just because you need them.”

-Peter L. Bernstein, The Most Important Thing

 

“Still, let me repeat it one more time. Becoming rich does not guarantee happiness. In fact, it is almost certain to impose the opposite condition—if not from the stresses and strains of protecting wealth, then from the guilt that inevitably accompanies its arrival.”

-Felix Dennis, How to Get Rich

 

“Two essentials for successful retirement are sufficient funds to live on and sufficient things to live for.”

-Ernie Zelinski, How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

 

“Money, contrary to popular myth, does help people more than it spoils them, simply because it opens up more options.  The danger is that when you have your million, you then want two, because you have a button saying I Am a Millionaire and that is who you are, and there are, all of a sudden—as you will notice—so many people with buttons saying I Am a Double Millionaire.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game


Markets/Philosophy

“Another lesson I learned early is that there is nothing new in Wall Street.  There can’t be because speculation is as old as the hills.  Whatever happens in the stock market today has happened before and will happen again.”

-Jesse Livermore, Reminiscences of a Stock Market Operator

 

“Fund performance comes and goes. Costs go on forever.”

-John “Jack” Bogle, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing

 

“Price is my due diligence.”

-Warren Buffett, Dinner with Brent Beshore

 

“I suppose the stock market is like this:  Here I have a dish of ice cream that costs me ten cents.  Robert, the waiter, comes in and says the ice cream is all gone and no more is to be had tonight. 

My ice cream suddenly seems more valuable to you and you offer me, say, twelve cents for it.  Then Bill, who had intended to order ice cream makes you an offer of thirteen cents.  You, being Scotch, can’t resist taking a profit.  Bill brags so much about the ice cream that I decide I was foolish to let it go in the first place and buy it back for fourteen cents. 

About that time I discover, to my dismay, that the ice cream has melted.”

-Fred C. Kelly, Why You Win or Lose

 

“The main purpose of the stock market is to make fools of as many men as possible.”

-Bernard Baruch

 

“Nobody knows nothing.”

-John “Jack” Bogle (via his mentor), Interview with Sensible Investing

 

“The compounding of wealth, like the building of the City, is part of the much older game of life against death.  The immortality is spurious because that particular wheel is fixed; you do have to lose in the end.  That is the way the senior game is set up: You can’t take it with you.”

-Adam Smith (pseudonym for George Goodman), The Money Game

 

“When the incentives were so huge and you had so many funds competing to the death—all of them with the same Wharton-trained wizards on the staff, the same state-of-the-art technology systems, the same expert network consults, the same greed and determination—how else could you rise above everyone else and beat the market year after year?”

-Sheelah Kolhatkar, Black Edge

 

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

-Benjamin GrahamBerkshire Hathaway 2008 Letter to Shareholders

 

“The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

-Philip Fisher

 

“In the short-run, the market is a voting machine…but in the long-run, the market is a weighing machine.”

-Benjamin Graham, Berkshire Hathaway 1993 Letter to Shareholders

 

“In fact, when we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

-Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway 1988 Letter to Shareholders

 

“Investment is the discipline of relative selection.”

-Sid Cottle, The Most Important Thing

 

“Perhaps brains or a skill are the most portable and best wealth preserver.”

-Barton Biggs, Wealth, War, and Wisdom

 

“It’s just money; it’s made up.  Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat.  It’s not wrong.  And it’s certainly no different today than it’s ever been.

1637, 1797, 1819, -37, -57, -84, 1901, -07, -29, 1937, 1974, 1987-Jesus, didn’t that fuck me up good. -92, -97, 2000 and whatever we want to call this.

It’s all just the same thing over and over; we can’t help ourselves.  And you and I can’t control it, or stop it, or even slow it.  Or even ever-so-slightly alter it.  We just react.

And we make a lot money if we get it right.  And we get left by the side of the road if we get it wrong.  And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers.  Happy foxes and sad sacks.  Fat cats and starving dogs in this world.  Yeah, there may be more of us today than there’s ever been.  But, the percentages, they stay exactly the same.”

-J.C. Candor, Margin Call


Most Quotes Are #FakeNews

In doing research for this post I came across a startling realization: most of the investing quotes I found online were either misattributed, misquoted, or had no reliable sources whatsoever. 

For example, “Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get,” is commonly attributed to Warren Buffett though it is actually a Benjamin Graham quote

Additionally, my favorite investment quote (by Jeremy Siegel):

Fear has a greater grasp on human action than does the impressive weight of historical evidence.

is likely a misquote of:

Fear incites human action far more urgently than does the impressive weight of historical evidence.

Yes, the essence of the two quotes is the same, but the incorrect one is from Nick Murray’s Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth while the correct one is from Jeremy Siegel’s Stocks for the Long Run (3rd Edition) [the 5th edition is missing the quote entirely].  

I know I am nitpicking here, but in a world where mainstream media sources aren’t fact checking basic math, being accurate matters now more than ever.  So check and recheck your sources and we might just put a dent in the spread of misinformation.  Don’t quote me on that though.  

Stay safe out there and thank you for reading!

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This is post 169. Any code I have related to this post can be found here with the same numbering: https://github.com/nmaggiulli/of-dollars-and-data


 

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