Charlie Munger, longtime business partner of Warren Buffett and vice chairman of multinational holding company Berkshire Hathaway, has died at the age of 99, the company announced today. Munger's proclamations, much like Buffett's, were often eminently quotable takedowns of bad investments—and few assets raised his ire like Bitcoin.
"I think it's rat poison," he famously said in 2013, when Bitcoin was worth $150. When asked to revisit his comments five years later, when the world's largest cryptocurrency was trading at $9,000, he said, "So it's more expensive rat poison."
When pressed on the returns some Bitcoin investors were able to make, he called them "idiot booms" that harm the U.S.
Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings were often called "Woodstock for Capitalists," and putting Munger and Buffett on stage was a top draw. Asking about cryptocurrency was a reliable way to get them to use colorful language.
"In my life, I try and avoid things that are stupid, and evil, and maybe look bad in comparison with somebody else," he said in 2018. "Bitcoin does all three."
"It's stupid because it's very likely to go to zero; it's evil because it undermines the Federal Reserve system... and third, it makes us look foolish compared to the communist leader in China," he explained. "He was smart enough to ban Bitcoin in China... we are a lot dumber."
Three years later, and Munger was still fuming.
"I just think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization," he said in early 2022, comparing crypto to a venereal disease, deeming it "beneath contempt."
Even at 99 years old, he mustered more fiery condemnation at the Daily Journal Corporation annual meeting earlier this year.
"Sometimes I call it crypto crapple and sometimes I call it, well, crypto shit," he said, going on to use the term half a dozen times during the course of the conversation. "It's ridiculous that anybody would buy this stuff."
"It's asinine, it's not slightly stupid it's massively stupid, and it's very dangerous," he continued. "The governments were totally wrong to permit it. I'm not proud of my country for allowing this crypto shit, it's worthless, it's no good, it's crazy, it'll do nothing but harm."
While Munger's attacks ruffled cryptocurrency backers, his candor was long part of Berkshire's folksy public image. He worked alongside Buffett for decades, offering investment wisdom almost as quotable as the "Oracle of Omaha" himself.
Berkshire Hathaway said Munger died peacefully in a California hospital. Buffett paid tribute to Munger's "inspiration, wisdom and participation" in building Berkshire into the conglomerate it is today.