P.J. O'Rourke once famously quipped that giving money and power to the government was like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager. Politicians and other American leaders frequently get a bad rap from business-minded individuals, but there have been quite a few that have managed to balance common sense with fiscal prudence. Below are some of the noteworthy pieces of financial advice from American leaders and other high-profile individuals throughout history.
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Ronald Reagan famously mused that hard work may have never killed anyone, but why take the chance that it might. He was also famously suspect of government and politics, but also very patriotic. His financial advice for Americans focused on reducing regulation in people's lives. He also came into the presidency at a time of pessimism and said he wanted to help Americans believe in themselves again, which centered around letting the marketplace grow and help create wealth.
Though not technically a leader in America's history, Mark Twain has had a great literary influence on the nation. One of his better known financial recommendations is to not speculate on stocks in October. Twain is said to not have been a successful individual investor overall, but had quite a writing career to be able to fall back on.
Benjamin Franklin offered sage advice on a wide number of subjects. Financially, his famous publication Poor Richard's Almanac was said to have prudent advice for managing one's personal finances. A number of quotes from Franklin speak to his fondness for compounding interest, which allows an investment to grow in value, perhaps significantly over time. Investing in one's own education and study were other important subjects which Franklin flawlessly applied to his own life.
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Like Franklin, Thomas Jefferson was famous for offering advice on how to lead a meaningful and practical life. Included in his overall lessons are tips that are directly related to the management of investments. In one of the more commons sense recommendations, he has suggested that an individual not spend more money that he or she has presently. He has also suggested not buying something simply because it is cheap, which has carryover into the investment profession in terms of doing one's homework when determining if a security is a good value.
Sir John Templeton
John Templeton was born in the United States, but ended his career under British nationality. He is one of the more famous value investors of all time. The recommendation to buy when there is blood in the streets is attributed to him. The suggestion of buying at the time of maximum pessimism and selling at a time of maximum optimism is also attributed to Templeton and a twist on buying low and selling high.
SEE: The Value Investor's Handbook
The Bottom Line
Advice from American leaders certainly appears to be valuable and based on common sense. This advice exists in the modern day, but it may be more difficult to find with all of the media that individuals must sift through to find insight into financial matters.