Whenever the market crashes, Warren Buffett turns to a 19th-century poem

Buffett holds an ice cream bar as he poses for a selfie.
Buffett holds an ice cream bar as he poses for a selfie.
Image: AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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When the market throws him for a loop, Warren Buffett looks to poetry. No, really.

The chairman and CEO of multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway today explained in his annual letter (pdf) to shareholders that some of the best market advice can be found in the words of 19th-century British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling.

Buffett’s letter to shareholders is a much anticipated annual event for anyone who wishes to gain insight into what the so-called “Oracle of Omaha” is thinking about the economic climate. In this instance, with his letter coming so soon after a sudden US stocks correction, Buffett reminded shareholders that market crashes are unavoidable, noting four instances since 1973 in which he took a hit himself. “Your mind may well become rattled by scary headlines and breathless commentary,” the letter states. “And an unsettled mind will not make good decisions.”

In particular, Buffett said he consults these lines from Kipling’s 1895 poem, “If”:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim…
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.