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Quote of the Day
“Francis I of France paid 4,000 ecus in 1540 for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, On the off chance that a few of you have not kept track of the fluctuations of the ecu, 4,000 converted out to about $20,000.
If Francis had kept his feet on the ground and he (and his trustees had been able to find a 6% after-tax investment, the estate would now be worth something over $1,000,000,000,000,000. That’s $1 quadrillion, or over 3,000 times the national debt, all from 6%.
I trust this will end all discussion in our household about any purchase of paintings qualifying as an investment.”
-Warren Buffett, written January 18th 1964, in a letter to his partners.
January 18th – This Day in Stock Market History
January 18th, 1980 – Silver reaches its all time high of $49.45 per ounce.
The chart doesn’t do a the best job representing the peak in silver price because it uses monthly prices and the price spike happened so rapidly.
You will see various price quotes for the “peak” in silver prices. Today’s peak of $49.45 in 1980 is based on the “London Fix”, or the spot price based on the prices trading in London. U.S. based COMEX’s price peak was January 21st at $52.50.
Regardless, these few days in 1980 represent the peak of the Hunt Brother’s corner of the silver market. It is estimated that on this day, the Hunt brothers owned a third of the world’s silver supply (not including amounts held by governments).
But the bubble would not last long.
On January 21st, the COMEX exchange would begin to place limits on the trading of silver, leading the price to collapse to $34.
And the Hunt Brothers corner of the silver market would spectacularly fail on a day known as “Silver Thursday”, March 27th 1980 when the price of silver would collapse to $10.85.
On an absolute price basis (not factoring in inflation), the 1980 silver price peak would be surpassed in 2011. However, when adjusted for inflation, the price of silver is still well below its 1980’s peak:
January 18th, 2005 – Airbus unveils the largest passenger airplane ever built, the A380:
Built as a competitor to the Boeing 747, the massive A380 can haul more than 500 passengers 8,500 miles at a speed of mach .85.
Over 200 of the planes have been delivered, with a “sticker price” of just under $500 million!
Airbus has been competing with Boeing and making headway in the industry, though still has some room to make up before overtaking Boeing. Currently, Boeing’s market cap is about twice that of Airbus.
With about 6x the net profit of Airbus:
But the stock price has kept up with Boeing’s rapid rise:
Best January 18th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History
1915 – Up 1.63%, 0.93 points.
Worst January 18th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History
1932 – Down 3.54%, 2.99 points.
Read of the Day
Buffett’s letter to Berkshire shareholders are well known (and even available in a best selling $2.99 kindle book), but he had been writing for his investment partners since 1957 (Berkshire letters started in 1965). The letters are a fascinating look at Buffett at his prime. Buffett ran his partnership very differently than Berkshire, and his partnership letters get into details that many of his Berkshire letters do not.
A complete collection of Buffett Partnership letters has been uploaded here:
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