My Two Cents

Zweig on Bernstein

Chris Farrell Jun 21, 2009

Jason Zweig, the market columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has a nice tribute to the late Peter Bernstein. You can read it here.

The theme of Bernstein’s work was risk and uncertainty. How do we deal with it? How do we cope with risk. How do we manage risk.

Late in his life, Mr. Bernstein often joked that he had made his living for decades by repeatedly “telling people what they know only too well already.”

In 1970, he asked rhetorically, “What are the consequences if I am wrong?” and said “no investment decisions can be rationally arrived at unless they are [based upon] the answer to this question.” He counseled investors to take big risks with small amounts of money rather than small risks with big amounts of money…..

Also in 1970, Mr. Bernstein wrote: “We simply do not know what the future holds.” Over the ensuing decades, he returned again and again to that phrase in his speeches, articles and books, because he felt it captured the central truth about investing.

It’s a profound insight. Its why most people should match up their savings with their goals, and not try to beat the market and not get caught up in the latest market fad or fall into a deep funk during a bear market.

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