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John Templeton

July 18, 2008

Sir John Marks Templeton, investment analyst and philanthropist, died on July 8th, aged 95. This is an article on The Economist about him.

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IF, ON any day over the past few decades, you had chanced to be strolling in the early morning at Lyford Cay in the Bahamas, you might have seen a wiry, determined figure power-walking in the sea. Keen as a whippet, his thin arms pumping, he headed into the prevailing swell. In his 80s, he would do an hour of this. In his 90s, he still managed 25 minutes.

Sir John Templeton spent his life going against the flow. In September 1939, when the war-spooked world was selling, he borrowed $10,000 to buy 100 shares in everything that was trading for less than a dollar a share on the New York Stock Exchange. All but four eventually turned profits. In early 2000, conversely, he sold all his dotcom and Nasdaq tech stocks just before the market crashed. His iron principle of investing was “to buy when others are despondently selling and to sell when others are greedily buying”. At the point of “maximum pessimism” he would enter, and clean up.

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