“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
I’m a sucker for great Shakespeare quotes. Nearly 40 years later, I still recall an older sister’s high school yearbook where each teacher was given a Shakespeare quote to sum up her or his personality. For example: “When he meant to shake and quail the orb, he was as rattling thunder!” (Cleopatra speaking of Mark Antony in “Antony and Cleopatra.”)
That quote was assigned to an algebra teacher (and the wrestling coach), who several years later would introduce his massive college ring to the top of my skull in class. Perhaps that’s why I remember the quote.
Warren Buffett used the Brutus citation above (Cassius speaking to Brutus in “Julius Caesar”) in his 50th annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter in a section on how so many investors shoot themselves in the foot.
In his letter, Buffett writes:
If the investor fears price volatility, erroneously viewing it as a measure of risk, he may, ironically, end up doing some very risky things. Recall, if you will, the pundits who six years ago bemoaned falling stock prices and advised investing in “safe” Treasury bills or bank certificates of deposit. People who heeded this sermon are now earning a pittance on sums they had previously expected would finance a pleasant retirement […]. If not for their fear of meaningless price volatility, these investors could have assured themselves of a good income for life by simply buying a very low-cost index fund whose dividends would trend upward over the years and whose principal would grow as well.