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Classic Articles

Richard Russell: The Passing of an Icon

Dear Subscribers,

 

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Richard Lion Russell on Saturday, November 21. Richard had gone to the hospital a week earlier with abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with blood clots in the leg and lungs and other untreatable ailments, but was able to return home under hospice care. He spent his last days surrounded by family and visited by close friends.

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The Perfect Business

AH PERFECTION: Strange, but the most popular, the most widely-requested, and the most widely quoted piece I've ever written was not about the stock market -- it was about business, and specifically about what I call the theoretical "ideal business." I first published this piece in the early-1970s. I repeated it in Letter 881 and then again in Letter 982. I've added a few thoughts in each successive edition. But seldom does a month go by when I don't get requests from subscribers or from some publication or corporation to republish "the ideal business." So here it is again -- with a few added comments.


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Rich Man, Poor Man

MAKING MONEY: The most popular piece I've published in 40 years of writing these Letters was entitled, "Rich Man, Poor Man." I have had dozens of requests to run this piece again or for permission to reprint it for various business organizations.  

 

Making money entails a lot more than predicting which way the stock or bond markets are heading or trying to figure which stock or fund will double over the next few years. For the great majority of investors, making money requires a plan, self-discipline and desire. I say, "for the great majority of people" because if you're a Steven Spielberg or a Bill Gates you don't have to know about the Dow or the markets or about yields or price/earnings ratios. You're a phenomenon in your own field, and you're going to make big money as a by-product of your talent and ability. But this kind of genius is rare.



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The History of the Dow Theory

The following piece is for serious market students. What I wrote below is information that you will rarely see anywhere else. I hope it will dispel some of the misconceptions and utter nonsense  that has circulated about Dow Theory. Read on.

 

DOW'S THEORY: From the very beginning (July 1958) I called my report Dow Theory Letters, and there are obvious reasons for that. The reasons are (1) I truly believe in the basic tenets of Dow Theory, and (2) I wanted to teach Dow Theory and I wanted to insure that the Dow Theory tenets, rules and observations were passed on to future generations.

 

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Hope

HOPE:It's human nature to be optimistic. It's human nature to hope. Furthermore, hope is a component of a healthy state of mind. Hope is the opposite of negativity. Negativity in life can lead to anger, disappointment and depression. After all, if the world is a negative place, what's the point of living in it? To be negative is to be anti-life.

 

Ironically, it doesn't work that way in the stock market. In the stock market hope is a hindrence, not a help. Once you take a position in a stock, you obviously want that stock to advance. But if the stock that you bought is a real value, and you bought it right -- you should be content to sit with that stock in the knowledge that over time its value will out without your help, without your hoping.

 

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Acting

ACTING: A few days ago a young subscriber asked me, "Russell, you've been dealing with the markets since the late-1940s. This is a strange question, but what is the most important lesson you've learned in all that time?"

 

I didn't have to think too long. I told him, "The most important lesson I've learned comes from something Freud said. He said, 'Thinking is rehearsing.' What Freud meant was that thinking is no substitute for acting. In this world, in investing, in any field, there is no substitute for taking action."

 

This brings up another story which illustrates that same theme. J.P. Morgan was "Master of the Universe" back in the 1920's. Morgan belonged to many exclusive and expensive clubs. One day a young man came up to Morgan and said, "Mr. Morgan, I'm sorry to bother you, but I own some stocks that have been acting poorly, and I'm very anxious about these stocks. In fact worrying about those stocks is starting to ruin my health. Yet, I still like the stocks. It's a terrible dilemma. What do you think I should do, sir?"

 

Without hesitating Morgan said, "Young man, sell to the sleeping point."

 

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