Thursday, April 16, 2009

Irving gives investor's perspective

I post this Wall Street Journal article here because not only is the WSJ the best financial paper in the world but the article is the most illuminating that I have seen on the current economic and financial mess that we find ourselves in the middle of.

It gives perspective, some opinion and most of all experience.

Perhaps the most illuminating of accounts is about a man called Irving Kahn, I have heard about him before briefly and his story, among the others in this sizable column really put today's investors in the picture more clearly than anything I have read, listened to or watched over the last 2 years.

The following excerpt is about 103 year old Irving Kahn:

Irving Kahn sits at his cluttered desk, peering at his computer screen through thick, dark glasses. The Dow inched up 38 points today, a small move in light of its 332-point drop earlier in the week. But Kahn has made a career of betting on beaten-down stocks, and he's hard at work poring over annual reports and studying balance sheets looking for companies that have lots of cash, not much debt and good long-term growth prospects. General Electric has a solid business and looks pretty good at these prices, he muses. General Motors? Not so much.

Like a lot of us, Kahn has seen good times and bad, bull markets and bear markets, recessions and recoveries. But he's also seen something most of us haven't: the Great Depression. Kahn, who still shows up at work every day and puts in a good six hours, worked as a stock analyst and brokerage clerk on Wall Street in the 1930s. He's 103 years old.

That's right — 103. As pundits half their age dominate the airwaves with prognostications on whether the next Great Depression is just around the corner, a small group of overlooked folks who not just lived through it but worked through it — on Wall Street — are still here. What's more, they're still at it, running their own sizable portfolios and, in a few cases, managing money for clients. Despite innumerable bull and bear markets, 17 presidents, and countless economic policies, they've remained remarkably true to their investing philosophy. They've also remained remarkably true to their methods: Forget BlackBerrys; most of them hardly touch their desktop computers. And you won't find CNBC blaring in their offices throughout the day; that's more noise than news to these gentlemen. Instead, you'll find stacks of reading material (these guys actually read a firm's annual report before investing) and a lot of old-fashioned...what do you call it? Oh, right. Math. See fully story at WSJ

Irving puts the long into long term investing and if any example of longevity can give today's investors hope for that long-term it is individuals like Irving, with qualities like tenacity, a capacity for hard work, honesty, intelligence, ethics and most of all experience.

If the WSJ article doesn't give you a better feeling about where you are going in the future, investing and in life, you haven't read it thoughtfully enough.

Move over Mr Buffett, I think I just got a new Guru.

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A Random Walk Down Wall Street: Completely Revised and Updated Edition
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c Share Investor 2009