Charles Thomas Munger
January 1, 1924
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University (JD)|
California Institute of Technology
University of Michigan
|Known for||Leading investments at Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffett|
|Net worth||US$1.9 Billion (March 2021)|
|Title||Vice Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway|
Nancy Jean Huggins
(m. 1945; div. 1953)
Nancy Barry Borthwick
(m. 1956; died 2010)
|Children||9 (2 step-children)|
|Service/|| United States Army|
• United States Army Air Corps
|Years of service||1943–1946|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Charles Thomas Munger (born January 1, 1924) is an American billionaire investor, businessman, former real estate attorney, architectural designer, and philanthropist. He is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett; Buffett has described Munger as his closest partner and right-hand man. Munger served as chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation from 1984 through 2011. He is also chairman of the Daily Journal Corporation, based in Los Angeles, California, and a director of Costco Wholesale Corporation.
Early life and education
Munger was born in Omaha, Nebraska. As a teenager, he worked at Buffett & Son, a grocery store owned by Warren Buffett's grandfather. His father, Alfred Case Munger, was a lawyer. His grandfather was Thomas Charles Munger, a district court judge and state representative.
He enrolled in the University of Michigan, where he studied mathematics. During his time in college, he joined the fraternity Sigma Phi Society. In early 1943, a few days after his 19th birthday, he dropped out of college to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he became Second Lieutenant. After receiving a high score on the Army General Classification Test, he was ordered to study meteorology at Caltech in Pasadena, California, the town he was to make his home.
Through the GI Bill Munger took a number of advanced courses through several universities. When he applied to his father's alma mater, Harvard Law School, the dean of admissions rejected him because Munger had not completed an undergraduate degree. However, the dean relented after a call from Roscoe Pound, the former dean of Harvard Law and a Munger family friend. Munger excelled in law school, graduating magna cum laude with a J.D. in 1948. At Harvard, he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.
In college and the Army, he developed "an important skill": card playing. “What you have to learn is to fold early when the odds are against you, or if you have a big edge, back it heavily because you don't get a big edge often. Opportunity comes, but it doesn't come often, so seize it when it does come.”
He moved with his family to California, where he joined the law firm Wright & Garrett (later Musick, Peeler & Garrett). In 1962 he founded and worked as a real estate attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He then gave up the practice of law to concentrate on managing investments and later partnered with Otis Booth in real estate development. He then partnered with Jack Wheeler to form Wheeler, Munger, and Company, an investment firm with a seat on the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. He wound up Wheeler, Munger, and Co. in 1976, after losses of 32% in 1973 and 31% in 1974.
Although Munger is better known for his association with Buffett, he ran an investment partnership of his own from 1962 to 1975. According to Buffett's essay "The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville", published in 1984, Munger's investment partnership generated compound annual returns of 19.8% during the 1962–75 period compared to a 5.0% annual appreciation rate for the Dow.
Munger was previously the chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. It began as a savings and loan association, but eventually grew to control Precision Steel Corp., CORT Furniture Leasing, Kansas Bankers Surety Company, and other ventures. Wesco Financial also held a concentrated equity portfolio of over US$1.5 billion in companies such as Coca-Cola,Wells Fargo, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, US Bancorp, and Goldman Sachs. Munger believes that holding a concentrated number of stocks that he knows extremely well will in the long term produce superior returns.
Wesco is based in Pasadena, California, Munger's adopted hometown. Pasadena was also the site of the company's annual shareholders' meeting, which were typically held on the Wednesday or Thursday after the more famous Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. Munger's meetings were nearly as legendary in the investment community as those he co-hosts with Buffett in Omaha. Such meetings were often perfunctory, but Munger interacted with the other Wesco shareholders at considerable length, sometimes speculating about what Benjamin Franklin would do in a given situation. Meeting notes have been posted on the Futile Finance? website, but no updates exist beyond 2011.
Munger is also the chairman of the Daily Journal Corporation. Since Wesco meetings ended, the Daily Journal annual meeting has grown in importance, as investors flock to the meeting to listen to him speak at length.
"Elementary, worldly wisdom"
In multiple speeches, and in the book Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, “worldly wisdom” consists of a set of mental models framed as a latticework to help solve critical business problems.
Munger, along with Buffett, is one of the main inspirations behind the book Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger. Author Peter Bevelin explained his key learnings from both Munger and Buffett in a 2007 interview: "How to think about businesses and investing, how to behave in life, the importance of ethics and honesty, how to approach problems but foremost how to reduce the chance of meeting problems." Bevelin stated that previously, he "was lacking the Munger ability to un-learn my own best-loved ideas".
Munger states that high ethical standards are integral to his philosophy; at the 2009 Wesco Financial Corporation annual meeting he said, "Good businesses are ethical businesses. A business model that relies on trickery is doomed to fail." During an interview and Q&A session at Harvard-Westlake School on January 19, 2010, Munger referred to American philosopher Charles Frankel in his discussion on the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the philosophy of responsibility. Munger explained that Frankel believed:
- ...the system is responsible in proportion to the degree that the people who make the decisions bear the consequences. So to Charlie Frankel, you don’t create a loan system where all the people who make the loans promptly dump them on somebody else through lies and twaddle, and they don’t bear the responsibility when the loans are good or bad. To Frankel, that is amoral, that is an irresponsible system.
Munger uses the term "Lollapalooza effect" for multiple biases, tendencies or mental models acting in compound with each other at the same time in the same direction. With the Lollapalooza effect, itself a mental model, the result is often extreme, due to the confluence of the mental models, biases or tendencies acting together, greatly increasing the likelihood of acting irrationally.
During a talk at Harvard in 1995 titled The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, Munger mentions Tupperware parties and open outcry auctions, where he explained "three, four, five of these things work together and it turns human brains into mush," meaning that normal people will be highly likely to succumb to the multiple irrational tendencies acting in the same direction. In the Tupperware party, you have reciprocation, consistency and commitment tendency, and social proof. (The hostess gave the party and the tendency is to reciprocate; you say you like certain products during the party so purchasing would be consistent with views you've committed to; other people are buying, which is the social proof.) In the open outcry auction, there is social proof of others bidding, reciprocation tendency, commitment to buying the item, and deprivation super-reaction syndrome, i.e. sense of loss. The latter is an individual's sense of loss of what he or she believes should be (or is) his or hers. These biases often occur at either conscious or subconscious level, and in both microeconomic and macroeconomic scale.
Principle of inversion
Munger is famous for his quote All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there. This thinking was inspired by the German mathematician Carl Jacobi who often solved difficult problems by following a simple strategy: man muss immer umkehren (or loosely translated, "invert, always invert.")
"[Jacobi] knew that it is in the nature of things that many hard problems are best solved when they are addressed backward," Munger counsels. "Indeed, many problems can’t be solved forward."
Criticism of cryptocurrencies and Robinhood
Munger is critical of cryptocurrencies, referring to Bitcoin in particular as "noxious poison." Munger also compared Robinhood to gambling, saying that its success is due to "people who know how to take advantage essentially of the gambling instincts of, not only American public, worldwide public” and further explained why he thinks individual investments without commission is tantamount to gambling. “If you cater to those gambling chips, when people have money in their pocket for the first time, and you tell them they can make 30 or 40 or 50 trades a day, and you’re not charging them any commission, but you’re selling their order flow or whatever, I hope we don’t have more of it.”
Wealth and philanthropy
Munger is a major benefactor of the University of Michigan. In 2007, Munger made a $3 million gift to the University of Michigan Law School for lighting improvements in Hutchins Hall and the William W. Cook Legal Research Building, including the noted Reading Room. In 2011, Munger made another gift to the Law School, contributing $20 million for renovations to the Lawyers Club housing complex, which will cover the majority of the $39 million cost. The renovated portion of the Lawyers Club will be renamed the Charles T. Munger Residences in the Lawyers Club in his honor.
In 1997, the Mungers donated $1.8 million to the Marlborough School in Los Angeles, of which Nancy Munger was an alumna. The couple also donated to the Polytechnic School in Pasadena and the Los Angeles YMCA.
Munger and his late wife Nancy B. Munger have been major benefactors of Stanford University. Nancy Munger was an alumna of Stanford, and Wendy Munger, Charlie Munger's daughter from a previous marriage, was also an alumna (A.B. 1972). Both Nancy and Wendy Munger served as members of the Stanford board of trustees. In 2004, the Mungers donated 500 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock, then valued at $43.5 million, to Stanford to build a graduate student housing complex.
Munger has not signed The Giving Pledge that was started by his partner Warren Buffett and Co-Director, Bill Gates, and has stated that he "can't do it" because "[he has] already transferred so much to [his] children that [he has] already violated it."
On April 18, 2013, the University of Michigan announced the single largest gift in its history: a $110 million gift from Munger to fund a new "state of the art" residence designed to foster a community of scholars, where graduate students from multiple disciplines can live and exchange ideas. The gift includes $10 million for graduate student fellowships. Munger designed the residence, which houses 600 single bedrooms, most of which are designed to be windowless.
The Munger Graduate Residence, funded and designed by Munger himself, opened in late 2009 and now houses 600 law and graduate students. The Munger family gave a major gift to Stanford's Green Library to fund the restoration of the Bing Wing as well as the construction of a rotunda on the library's second floor, and endowed the Munger Chair in Nancy and Charles Munger Professorship of Business at Stanford Law School.
Munger has been a trustee of the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles for more than 40 years, and previously served as chair of the board of trustees. His five sons and stepsons as well as at least one grandson graduated from the prep school. In 2009, Munger donated eight shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock, worth nearly $800,000, to Harvard-Westlake. In 2006, Munger donated 100 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock, then valued at $9.2 million, to the school toward a building campaign at Harvard-Westlake's middle school campus. The Mungers had previously made a gift to build the $13 million Munger Science Center at the high school campus, a two-story classroom and laboratory building which opened in 1995 and has been described as "a science teacher's dream". The design of the Science Center was substantially influenced by Munger.
In October 2014, Munger announced that he would donate $65 million to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This is the largest gift in the history of the school. The donation went towards the construction of a residence building designed by Munger for visitors of the Kavli Institute in an effort to bring together physicists to exchange ideas as Munger stated,"to talk to one another, create new stuff, cross-fertilize ideas".
In March 2016, Munger announced a further $200 million gift to UC Santa Barbara for state of the art student housing, tripling the record gift he gave for the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.
In 1945, while studying at Caltech, Munger married Nancy Huggins, daughter of Frederick R. Huggins and Edith M. Huggins. She was a Pasadena native who had been Munger's sister's roommate at Scripps College. They had three children, Wendy Munger (a former corporate lawyer, trustee of Stanford University, and trustee of The Huntington Library), Molly Munger (a civil rights attorney and funder of a ballot initiative to raise California taxes for public education) and Teddy Munger (deceased, leukemia, age 9).
After Munger's divorce, he remarried within a couple of years. From his second marriage with Nancy Barry, daughter of David Noble Barry Jr. and Emilie Hevener Barry, he has four children—physicist and Republican activist Charles T. Munger Jr., Emilie Munger Ogden, Barry A. Munger and Philip R. Munger—and two stepchildren: William Harold Borthwick and David Borthwick.
On July 22, 2002, Munger's first wife Nancy Huggins Freeman died from cancer. She was 76 years old.
Munger enjoys architecture and has designed multiple buildings, including dormitories at Stanford University and the University of Michigan as well as the house he currently inhabits.
Munger is a Republican and has provided his opinions on a number of political topics including the policies of the Trump administration. Munger states he is "not a normal Republican", for example advocating "medicare for all" as a fix to the U.S. healthcare system, "I think we should have single-payer medicine eventually". Munger repeated his sentiments in another interview, praising Singapore's single payer system in contrast to the U.S. "insane" system which is a "national disgrace".
In his 50s, after a failed eye cataract surgery that rendered his left eye blind, Munger had his left eye removed due to severe pain. When doctors told him that he had developed a condition that may cause his remaining eye to fill up with blood and become blind too, Munger started taking braille lessons. The eye condition has since receded and he still has sight in his right eye.
- "Forbes profile: Charles Munger". Forbes. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
- "Charlie Munger: Background & bio". Value Walk. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- Library, C. N. N. "Charlie Munger Fast Facts". CNN. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
- "Munger, Thomas Charles | District of Nebraska | United States District Court". www.ned.uscourts.gov. Archived from the original on March 28, 2020. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- Janet Lowe. Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger (2000). John Wiley and Sons.
- Imrie, Mike. "The Sigma Phi Flame" (PDF). Sigma Phi. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "The World's Billionaires #1324 Charles Munger". Forbes. October 31, 2014. Archived from the original on September 15, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- Lemann, p. 189.
- Lowe, Janet (October 30, 2000). Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-24473-8.
"I was admitted over the objection of Dean Warren Abner Seavy through the intervention of family friend Roscoe Pound," Munger said.
- Omiunu, Gamelial (November 26, 2019). "Charlie Munger Net Worth 2019, Bio, Height, Awards, and Instagram". USA News Court. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
- Lemann, p. 191.
- "A Special Event". Harvard Law School Alumni Center. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- Warren Buffett (Fall 1984). "The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville" (PDF). Safal Niveshak. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- Jill Perry (January 29, 2008). "Financier Munger Gives DuBridge Lecture". California Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on June 18, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
- Whitney Tilson (May 9, 2007). "Whitney Tilson's 2007 Wesco Annual Meeting Notes" (PDF). Tilson Funds. Tilson Funds. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 3, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Various (2014). "Charlie Munger". Futile Finance?. Futile Finance?. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- LIVE: Charlie Munger Speaks at Daily Journal Annual Meeting -- Feb. 14, 2019, archived from the original on June 6, 2019, retrieved October 3, 2019
- Joe Koster (October 17, 2007). "Interview with Peter Bevelin, author of Seeking Wisdom - from Darwin to Munger". Value Investing World. Google Inc. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Charlie Munger's got a billion words of wisdom Archived March 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, May 17, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Accessed January 3, 2010
- "Munger Talk at Harvard-Westlake". Scribd (from Santangel's Review). Scribd Inc. October 17, 2012. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Munger, C. T. (2005). The psychology of human misjudgment Archived February 19, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
- "Charlie Munger on the Psychology of Human Misjudgment" (PDF). RBCPA. June 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 10, 2016.
- The Psychology of Human Misjudgement - Charlie Munger. YouTube. June 2015.
YouTube title: The Psychology of Human Misjudgement - Charlie Munger
- Kaufman, Peter (2005). Poor Charlie's Almanack. Donning Company. ISBN 1-57864-303-1.
- Hirschey, Mark (2008). Managerial Economics. Cengage Learning. p. 20. ISBN 9780324584844. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
- "Inversion and The Power of Avoiding Stupidity". Farnam Street. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
- "Bitcoin breaks £7,000... after Buffet investment chief calls it 'poison'". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on February 16, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "Bitcoin is 'disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization' says famed investor Charlie Munger".
- "Munger: A Leading Light Archived May 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." University of Michigan Law School.
- Janet Lorin, "Berkshire’s Munger Gives $20 Million to Michigan Law School Archived August 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine"(March 14, 2011). Bloomberg.
- Kyle Feldscher, "Former Michigan student Charles Munger donates $20 million for Lawyers Club renovation project Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine" (March 14, 2011). AnnArbor.com; accessed February 17, 2018.
- "$20 million gift jumpstarts renovation at M Law's Lawyers Club Archived March 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine", University of Michigan Law School website; accessed February 17, 2018.
- "Financier Munger Gives DuBridge Lecture Archived October 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine" (January 29, 2008). California Institute of Technology.
- Kevin Roose, "Munger Donates $1.2 Million to University of Michigan" Archived October 19, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, New York Times, January 10, 2011.
- "Mungers donate $43.5 million to help construct new graduate student residence Archived August 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine" (August 26, 2004). Stanford University.
- Ulysses Torassa. Stanford: $43.5 million given for more graduate student housing Archived July 8, 2012, at archive.today, San Francisco Chronicle, August 27, 2004.
- "The Giving Pledge website". Archived from the original on June 17, 2016.
- "Charlie Munger talks about investing and life choices that secure prosperity". YouTube. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
Well, I wouldn't sign the Giving Pledge 'cause I've already transferred so much to my children that I've already violated it. So I think I'm asking, I'm seeking false credit if I join them and say I'm a big philanthropist that's going to give more than half of my wealth to charity. I've already given more than half of it to my children. So I can't join them. It's like coming back from the dead. I can't do it.
- O'Toole, James. "Buffett associate Charlie Munger pledges $110 million to University of Michigan". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on April 20, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- "$110 million donation largest in UM history". The Toledo Blade. Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- "Warren Buffett's Investing Pal Charlie Munger Has Been Busy Designing College Dorms". May 3, 2019. Archived from the original on July 20, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Kathleen J. Sullivan, "Memorial to be held in March for former trustee Nancy Barry Munger Archived July 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine", Stanford University website, February 23, 2010.
- "Farewells Archived August 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine" (May/June 2011). Stanford Magazine.
- Jamie Kim, "Munger donates $800,000 of stock to school Archived July 17, 2012, at archive.today" (February 11, 2010). Harvard-Westlake Chronicle.
- Steve Jordon, "Munger Gives 100 Shares of Berkshire to Prep School[permanent dead link]" (June 22, 2006). Omaha World-Herald.
- Beth Schuster, "A Science Teacher's Dream in Studio City: New $13-million center gives students at Harvard-Westlake School top-notch, hands-on lessons Archived September 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine" (December 24, 1995). Los Angeles Times.
- De La Merced, Michael. "Charles Munger, Warren Buffett's Longtime Business Partner, Makes $65 Million Gift". Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
- Brugger, Kelsey (March 24, 2016). "Charlie Munger Donates $200 Million to UCSB for New Dorms". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- Yelimeli, Supriya (March 28, 2016). "Billionaire Donates $200M To Fix 'Gross' Dorms". Daily Nexus. Santa Barbara, California. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- Lemann, p. 190.
- "Nancy Huggins Freeman". legacy.com. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "Munger elected to Board of Trustees". Stanford University. February 12, 2003. Archived from the original on August 3, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- "Trustees & Overseers". huntington.org. Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- Steven Harmon (March 1, 2012). "Political novice no stranger to upending status quo". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Lemann, p. 192.
- "Nancy Barry Munger". legacy.com. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- Janet Lowe (August 16, 2000). "Chapter One: An Extraordinary Combination of Minds" (PDF). Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger. Wiley. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Sullivan, Kathleen J. (February 23, 2010). "Memorial to be held in March for former trustee Nancy Barry Munger". news.stanford.edu. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "Warren Buffett on Charlie Munger" (PDF). Berkshire Hathaway. p. 26. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 18, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Serwer, Andy. "Charlie Munger: Democrats hate Trump 'so much that they're against him even when he's right'". Yahoo Finance. Archived from the original on August 5, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
- "Full Transcript: Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett Speaks with CNBC's Becky Quick on 'Squawk Box'". CNBC. Archived from the original on August 3, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
- "Charlie Munger: We Should Have Single-Payer Medicine | Squawk Box | CNBC". Archived from the original on March 1, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
- "Charlie Munger on health care: 'We should have a single payer system'". Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
- "Charlie Munger: America's health care system is a 'national disgrace'". Yahoo Finance. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
- "Lessons on Adversity from Charlie Munger: Be a Survivor, Not a Victim". Right Attitudes. January 24, 2017. Archived from the original on May 3, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
- Lemann, Nicholas (2000). The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52751-2.
- Lowe, Janet (2000) Damn Right! Behind the scenes with Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Charlie Munger, John Wiley & Sons (ISBN 0-471-24473-2)
- Kaufman, Peter (2005, 2006 for the second edition and 2008 for the third edition) Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
- Bevelin, Peter (2007) Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger (ISBN 1-57864-428-3)
- Labitan, Bud (2008) The Four Filters Invention of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, Acalmix (ISBN 978-0-615-24129-6)
- Griffin, Tren (2015) Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor (ISBN 023117098X)
- Rojas, Claudio R. (2014). "An Indeterminate Theory of Canadian Corporate Law". University of British Columbia Law Review. 47 (1): 59–128 ("The author's perspective on Berkshire Hathaway's investment philosophy was informed by discussions with Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska": pp. 59, 122–124). SSRN 2391775.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Charlie Munger|