Every woo-woo financial guru claims that Warren Buffett lives by this and said this at some point in time.

When and where did this statement originally occur? What is the primary source?

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    I have not seen a single primary source, a proof of statement by Buffett himself, especially on Google. – Jacob Draught Dec 27 '17 at 12:46
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    I have in at least 20 different ways. I do not find an original statement, original reporting, a historical form that indicates he has said this. I find editorials that quote him but do not provide reliable sources. – Jacob Draught Dec 27 '17 at 12:52
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    I should have looked more closely at the Amazon link, since it was made by a 3rd party. – RonJohn Dec 27 '17 at 12:55
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    "Many of the quotes found on the internet are fictitious" - Abraham Lincoln – D Stanley Dec 27 '17 at 14:11
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    Not to mention that Warren Buffett most likely wouldn't have said this, except perhaps as a joke. Like most intelligent investors, he probably realizes that sometimes an investment may be bad, and you need to cut your losses. – jamesqf Dec 27 '17 at 18:09

Here's a video, from Adam Smith’s Money World: How to Pick Stocks & Get Rich, PBS (1985): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpT-UmVf3g&ab_channel=SerenityStocks

The first rule of an investment is don't lose. And the second rule of an investment is don't forget the first rule, and that's all the rules there are. I mean if you buy things for far below what they're worth, and you buy a group of them, you basically don't lose money.

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    Great find. It's like blackjack - you don't expect to win every hand, but you play enough hands intelligently to pull the odds in your favor so that you are likely to win overall. His later comments about temperament are relevant as well - don't panic when things go against you, and don't invest based on emotion/sentiment alone. – D Stanley Oct 9 '20 at 15:54

If he did actually say this, I doubt it was serious. Buffet is a great investor but has lost money on many occasions. He knows that investing involves risk and that never losing money is impossible. This may very well be a sarcastic comment at Wall Street traders.


In Janet Lowe's book "Warren Buffett Speaks" (1997, John Wiley), this quote is on page 85 under the Chapter "About Investing". She has also given the source of this quote which is "The Forbes Four Hundred Billionaires", Forbes 400, October 27, 1986.



By Stephanie Loiacono | Investopedia – Tue, Feb 23, 2010 3:00 AM EST

The heading is in quotes. That might be misleading grammar, or just that Loiacono doesn't specify when and where she interviewed Buffett.

Regardless, this is the oldest reference I could find.

"Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1."

Buffett personally lost about $23 billion in the financial crisis of 2008, and his company, Berkshire Hathaway, lost its revered AAA ratings. So how can he tell us to never lose money?

He's referring to the mindset of a sensible investor. Don't be frivolous. Don't gamble. Don't go into an investment with a cavalier attitude that it's OK to lose. Be informed. Do your homework. Buffett invests only in companies he thoroughly researches and understands. He doesn't go into an investment prepared to lose, and neither should you.

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    This isn’t a primary source, and does not answer the question of when and where he said it. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jan 27 '18 at 22:57
  • @BenMiller I get the impression that Ms. Loiacono quoted him. I'll add another citation. – RonJohn Jan 27 '18 at 23:18
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    I didn’t get that impression at all. She states the quote, but doesn’t place it, just like every other article I’ve seen. The article is not an interview. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jan 27 '18 at 23:28
  • @BenMiller you can complain to Loiacono about her misleading punctuation. Until then, a quote's a quote, and this is the oldest which wikiquote has found. – RonJohn Jan 27 '18 at 23:43
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    Here is a blog post from 2009 referencing the quote, and after the quote it says, "Most investors have heard this and read it numerous times," meaning that the quote is well-known and much older than this article. It does not, however, say where or when he actually (if ever) said it. There are lots of "well-known" quotes that are actually misquotes. I don't know if this is a real quote or not, but these articles don't prove that it is real. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jan 28 '18 at 6:20

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