Berkshire, itself, provides some vivid examples of how price randomness in the short term can obscure long-term growth in value. For the last 53 years, the company has built value by reinvesting its earnings and letting compound interest work its magic. Year by year, we have moved forward. Yet Berkshire shares have suffered four truly major dips. Here are the gory details:
Period High Low Percentage Decrease
期间 高点 低点 下降率
March 1973-January 1975 93 38 (59.1%)
10/2/87-10/27/87 4,250 2,675 (37.1%)
6/19/98-3/10/2000 80,900 41,300 (48.9%)
9/19/08-3/5/09 147,000 72,400 (50.7%)
This table offers the strongest argument I can muster against ever using borrowed money to own stocks.
There is simply no telling how far stocks can fall in a short period. Even if your borrowings are small and your positions aren’t immediately threatened by the plunging market, your mind may well become rattled by scary headlines and breathless commentary. And an unsettled mind will not make good decisions.
In the next 53 years our shares (and others) will experience declines resembling those in the table. No one can tell you when these will happen. The light can at any time go from green to red without pausing at yellow.
When major declines occur, however, they offer extraordinary opportunities to those who are not handicapped by debt. That’s the time to heed these lines from Kipling’s If：
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . .
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting . . .
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim . . .
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you...
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”