When the baseball Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra passed away in September 2015, the world lost a figure who exceeded even the tremendous legacy of his historic baseball career. When Yogi spoke, people listened - and perhaps investors should listen too because his sayings could teach them an unexpected investment lesson.
Yogi's sayings are memorable not just because of the amusing way he would twist the English language, but because behind the apparent simplicity of his statements, there was often a richer meaning. And speaking of rich, Yogi was known for having a way with money that was almost as impressive as his skill with a baseball bat. His long-time manager, Casey Stengel, once said of him, "He'd fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch."
5 unexpected investment lessons from Yogi Berra
So, perhaps it is appropriate to apply some classic Yogi Berra statements to investing. Here's how that works:
1. "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
From the year Yogi's major league career started in 1946 to when he died, the purchasing power of a nickel declined to the equivalent of less than half a penny. So no, "A nickel ain't worth a dime." By the time Yogi died, it wasn't even worth a penny. For investors, this is a reminder about the erosive effects of inflation.
Especially with bank rates today yielding next to nothing, investors need to keep a growth component in their portfolios or else see the value of their money steadily undermined by inflation.
2. "It gets late early out there."
Though he was primarily a catcher, Yogi also played in the outfield at times. This was a quote about difficult outfield lighting conditions in late afternoon games, but it can also be taken as a warning for retirement investors. Retirement always seems like a long way off until all of a sudden it is staring you in the face. Better get serious about your retirement savings now because it does get late early out there.
3. "It's like deja vu all over again."
The exact circumstances may change, but to a large extent boom-and-bust stock market cycles and other investment developments tend to repeat themselves. Knowing something about market history can make what's happening today seem a little like deja vu all over again.
4. "You can observe a lot just by watching."
Intimidated by investments? Try just making some practice decisions on paper, and track how they do. Along with studying market history, watching how investments perform before diving in can be a way of benefiting from market experience without paying for it.
5. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
This, from directions to his house Yogi was giving, was apparently not as nonsensical as it sounds. There was apparently a fork in the road where either branch would ultimately take you in the right direction. For investors, it is a reminder not to get frozen by indecision - taking either fork in the road is often better than staying in place.
Most of the above comes down to common sense, a quality which is often buried in the financial markets beneath a heap of overheated emotions, over-wrought jargon and industry self-interest. So, the next time you feel a little confused about what's happening on Wall Street, turn to Yogi Berra and see if it doesn't put things in a little better perspective.
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