Wednesday, May 12, 1999
J. Paul Getty Was a Fool
"I thought you might find this interesting," said my Foolish friend as she held up a small book titled How to Be Rich: His Formulas. I glanced at the title and smugly waved the book aside. "If that guy knew anything about getting rich," I told her, "he'd be out doing it instead of writing books about it." She held up the book again and pointed to its author -- J. Paul Getty. I couldn't resist.
"Get-rich-quick schemes just don't work," the late billionaire roared from the tiny paperback. From page to page he sneered at speculators who jump in and out of the market in pursuit of fast profits or on a tip that this or that stock is somehow "due to rise." Seasoned investors, Getty explained, buy stocks of sound companies with bright potential when they're priced low, hold them for "the long pull" and take the inevitable day-to-day volatility in stride.
He told of buying thousands of shares at bargain prices after the disastrous market plunge of May 1962, believing that the American economy was still basically sound and that the stocks of good companies would eventually recover and increase in value over the years to come. He laughed, "I'd be foolish not to buy."
"J. Paul Getty was a Fool!" I exclaimed the next time I saw my friend.
She grinned. "I knew you'd like that book."
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