Sunday, 5 February 2012

Charlie Munger - Projections do more harm than good

Reading Tea Leaves

" I have no use whatsoever for projections or forecasts.  They create an illusion of apparent precision. The more meticulous they are, the more concerned you should be.  We never look at projections but we care very much about, and look very deeply, at track records.  If a company has a lousy track record but a very bright future, we will miss the opportunity,"  explained Warren Buffett.

Charlie Munger, added that in his opinion projections do more harm than good.  "They are put together by people who have an interest in a particular outcome, have a subconscious bias, and its apparent precision makes it fallacious.  They remind me of Mark Twain's saying, 'A mine is a hole in the ground owned by a liar.'  Projections in America are often a lie, although not an intentional one, but the worst kind because the forecaster often believes them himself."

Here is how Graham and Dodd looked at projections.  "While a trend shown in the past is a fact, a 'future trend' is only an assumption.  The past, or even careful projections, can be seen as only a 'rough index' to the future."

More than five decades have passed since those words were said, and Buffett still agrees.

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