Lessons from Dalio's 1982 Error

Bloomberg Television
5 Apr 202404:56


TLDRIn this reflective interview, the speaker revisits a pivotal moment in 1982, acknowledging past arrogance and the humbling experience of financial failure. The conversation delves into the lessons learned about risk management through diversification, drawing parallels to Bridgewater's success. The interviewee also discusses the importance of understanding historical patterns and the challenge of succession planning, expressing confidence in the new generation at Bridgewater to carry on and elevate the company's legacy.


  • 🔄 The transformative moment in 1982 was pivotal for the speaker, leading to a significant change in perspective.
  • 💡 Arrogance and wrong assumptions led to financial struggles, teaching the importance of humility and re-evaluation.
  • 🚨 The speaker's financial downfall was a turning point, where they had to rely on family support to cover expenses.
  • 🤔 A critical question arose from the experience: how to achieve the upside potential without the downside risks?
  • 🌐 Diversification was the solution discovered to mitigate risk without compromising returns.
  • 🔢 By having 15 uncorrelated bets, it was possible to eliminate 80% of the risk while maintaining returns.
  • 📉 The 1982 mistake involved underestimating the global economic impact of the Mexican debt crisis.
  • 💸 The realization of a debt squeeze leading to a disinflationary boom was a missed opportunity in the initial analysis.
  • 🏛️ Bridgewater's success is attributed to a culture of radical truth and transparency among its members.
  • 🧠 Succession planning was a deliberate and well-thought-out process, ensuring the continuity and future growth of the organization.
  • 🌱 The speaker's satisfaction with the succession lies in the belief that the next generation will build upon and potentially surpass the achievements of their predecessors.

Q & A

  • What was the transformative moment in the speaker's life in 1982?

    -The transformative moment in 1982 for the speaker was a realization of their arrogance and being proven wrong, which led to financial difficulty and the need for their father's financial assistance.

  • How did the speaker's financial situation lead to a pivotal change in their thinking?

    -The speaker's financial struggles made them contemplate how to achieve the upside of investments without the downside risks, leading to an exploration of strategies like diversification.

  • What did the speaker learn about investment through their experience?

    -The speaker learned about the importance of diversification, understanding that having uncorrelated bets could significantly reduce risk without compromising returns.

  • What was the speaker's mistake in 1982 regarding the debt crisis?

    -The speaker's mistake was assuming that the debt crisis, starting with Mexico's default, would cause a global crisis, not accounting for the mechanics of how debt squeezes could lead to a disinflationary boom in the 1980s.

  • How does the speaker reflect on their past experiences in relation to building Bridgewater?

    -The speaker sees a connection between their life experiences, studying history, and the formation of Bridgewater, emphasizing the importance of learning from past mistakes and applying those lessons to the company's development.

  • What is the speaker's approach to succession at Bridgewater?

    -The speaker's approach to succession involved careful planning, bringing in a team of trusted individuals with a shared mission and culture, and gradually transitioning leadership to them while taking on a mentoring role.

  • How does the speaker evaluate the success of the succession at Bridgewater?

    -The speaker views the succession as successful, as they have a strong team in place that owns the company and continues to build upon the foundation they established, aiming to achieve even greater success.

  • What qualities does the speaker believe are necessary for the next generation at Bridgewater?

    -The speaker believes that the next generation at Bridgewater needs to possess qualities such as radical truthfulness, transparency, trust, and a shared commitment to the company's mission and culture.

  • How does the speaker compare the process of succession to a personal experience?

    -The speaker compares the succession process to raising children, taking joy in seeing the next generation succeed and feeling a sense of accomplishment when they do well and continue the legacy.

  • What is the speaker's ultimate measure of success?

    -The speaker's ultimate measure of success is the continued success of Bridgewater under the new leadership, as they see it as a reflection of their own achievements and the legacy they leave behind.

  • How does the speaker's experience in 1982 influence their current perspective on risk management?

    -The speaker's experience in 1982 has led to a greater emphasis on understanding and managing risk through diversification and a deeper appreciation for the unpredictability of financial markets and global economies.



🔄 Reflecting on a Transformative Moment

The speaker recounts a pivotal moment in 1982 that led to a personal transformation. Initially, they admit to being arrogant and wrong, which resulted in financial troubles so severe that their father had to lend them $4,000 to cover family bills. This experience prompted a profound reflection on how to achieve potential gains without the associated risks. The individual then learned about diversification, realizing that having 15 uncorrelated bets could mitigate 80% of the risk without sacrificing returns. The narrative goes on to describe the success of Bridgewater and the importance of learning from past experiences, including understanding the mechanics of debt crises and their global impact. The speaker emphasizes the value of studying history to avoid repeating mistakes and the significance of planning for succession in leadership roles.



💡transformative moment

A transformative moment refers to a significant point in time that leads to a major change or shift in one's life or perspective. In the context of the video, the speaker reflects on 1982 as a pivotal year that fundamentally altered their outlook on life and business. This moment was characterized by a realization of past arrogance and mistakes, leading to a period of introspection and learning.


Diversification is a risk management strategy that involves mixing a wide variety of investments to potentially yield higher returns and reduce the risk of loss. In the video, the speaker discusses how they learned about diversification as a way to mitigate risk without sacrificing potential returns, by having uncorrelated bets spread across different areas.

💡risk management

Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events. The speaker in the video talks about their realization of the importance of risk management, particularly in the context of investing, and how it can lead to a better balance between potential gains and the possibility of loss.

💡economic crisis

An economic crisis refers to a situation where the economy experiences a sudden and significant downturn, often characterized by a sharp rise in unemployment, a fall in GDP, or a financial meltdown. In the video, the speaker mentions the debt crisis of the early 1980s, particularly the default of Mexico and other countries, which led to a broader economic crisis that they initially underestimated.

💡disinflationary boom

A disinflationary boom is an economic period characterized by strong economic growth with a decrease in inflation rates. This concept is brought up in the video as the speaker explains how the shift of funds away from countries experiencing a debt squeeze led to a unique economic environment in the 1980s, contrary to their initial expectations of a global crisis.

💡succession planning

Succession planning is the process of systematically identifying and developing people to fill key positions in an organization when the current incumbents eventually leave, retire, or are promoted. In the video, the speaker talks about the importance of thinking about succession for the continuity and success of Bridgewater, the organization they built, and how they implemented a plan to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

💡radical transparency

Radical transparency is the practice of being extremely open and honest, especially in organizational settings, to the point where all information, discussions, and decision-making processes are shared openly with everyone involved. The speaker mentions this as a core part of the culture they aimed to create at Bridgewater, emphasizing trust and open communication among team members.


Mentorship is a relationship in which an experienced or more knowledgeable person (the mentor) helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person (the mentee). In the video, the speaker transitions from a leadership role to a mentorship role, providing guidance and support to the new leaders of Bridgewater while allowing them to own and drive the organization forward.


Legacy refers to the lasting impact or influence that someone leaves behind, often through their work, achievements, or the effects of their actions on future generations. The speaker in the video discusses the importance of leaving a positive legacy through the success of the next generation at Bridgewater, drawing a parallel to the pride felt by parents as their children succeed.


Culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape the behavior of a group or organization. In the context of the video, the speaker emphasizes the importance of creating a culture of radical truth and transparency at Bridgewater, which played a significant role in the organization's success and the smooth transition of leadership.


The transformative moment in 1982 that led to a pivotal change in the speaker's life and perspective.

The speaker's realization of their arrogance and the mistake they made, which was a crucial turning point for them.

The financial struggle that forced the speaker's father to lend them $4,000, marking their 'bottom' and prompting a rethinking of their approach.

The central question that emerged from this experience: how to achieve the upside of investment without the downside of risk.

The concept of diversification as a solution to risk, and the discovery that 15 uncorrelated bets could eliminate 80% of risk without reducing returns.

The historical context of the 1982 debt crisis and the speaker's incorrect prediction of its global impact.

The learning from the debt crisis that led to the understanding of a disinflationary boom and the economic landscape of the 1980s.

The speaker's approach to learning from history and its influence on the founding and growth of Bridgewater.

The importance of thinking about succession in business and the speaker's reflection on their own.

The process of succession at Bridgewater, including the careful planning and trust built among a team of leaders.

The culture of radical truth and transparency that was established and maintained at Bridgewater.

The speaker's transition from leadership to a mentoring role, and their satisfaction with the new leadership.

The joy and fulfillment the speaker finds in seeing the next generation succeed and continue the legacy they've built.

The speaker's belief in the new leadership's ability to take Bridgewater to even greater heights.

The analogy of business succession to raising children and the pride in their success.

The final measure of success for the speaker being the continued success of Bridgewater under the new leadership.



Take us back to 1982, because you've talked about that sense as being a


really transformative, a pivotal moment in your life.


Tell us what happened and what happened afterwards.


Quite Watchmen. Was I arrogant?


Look, I look at myself now. I couldn't have been more arrogant and I


couldn't have been more wrong and painfully wrong.


And so that's why it was a transitional moment for me,


because I got


so broke that my dad had to let me $4,000 to pay for my family bills.


So that was my bottom, my big bottom. And that painful experience made me


think, how do I get all the upside without the downside of risk?


Okay. So it's the big question that all


investors have to deal with. The amount being knocked out and the bet


that you can lose that can take you out is is your risk.


But how do you get the great upside? And so then I had to engineer it and


I learned about diversification. I learned that if I can have 15


uncorrelated bets, I can eliminate 80% of my risk without producing my return.


Every looking at this is look a bit look at what Bridgewater ended up and their


extraordinary success you just went through.


So go back to 1982. You said you should have been more


diversified and you should have had some other points of view.


What is it you got wrong in 1982? Exactly what was your mistake?


And could there have been somebody come along to say at that moment we're


saying, Ray, you should think about that.


You haven't thought about that over there?


Yes. So


I had calculated that Mexico that American banks had lent more money to


foreign countries than they were going to be able to pay back.


And that was going to be a debt default. Which was true.


Which was true. Mexico defaulted and all these countries


afterwards defaulted. And I said that that debt crisis was


going to cause a crisis all the way around the world because it goes to


banks and so on. And I didn't realize the mechanics of


how the changing of a debt squeeze having a debt squeeze in those


countries. So money would not go to those countries


used to go to those countries and lending them while they were having a


squeeze. We could have a disinflationary boom.


And it produced the eighties. My point is that these experiences in


life, if you go back and you study history and you see how history repeats,


many things never happened in your lifetime before and you built up


Bridgewater at the same time. Having studied history, now I'm


surmising you knew you've got to think about succession at some point.


You can't stay forever. Now tell us how that's worked and has it


succeeded? Are you satisfied with that succession


in Bridgewater? It's so it's been so great.


So I so I did that and I had that track


record with them, bringing them in as you describe.


And and Bob Prince, Greg Jensen near other people, all of those people are


all part of that mission. And that was also part of a culture of


can we be radical, truthful and radically transparent?


Could we trust each other? Can we go through all of that?


And so that was all the arc. And then, of course, you have, you know,


you want to pass it along. And so then I


with a lot of planning and with the comfort that these great people I've


worked with and I know and those great people working together can continue to


pick up where I left off, where we left off together, and then go bring it to a


higher level beyond me. And so that's the success.


And so in about 18 months, they I turned it over to them.


They have their it's theirs. And now I'm a mentor.


And as a mentor, we have the enjoyment, the great pleasure of being able to


brainstorm that way. But it's theirs and they owner.


And so when they have, I'm confident that they have the qualities and the


terrific elements to be able to bring them up to have theirs, that will be


hopefully better than ours because, wow, I think we had amazing success and the


success. It's like raising your kids, you know,


the joy that the ones who are older feel about the next generation and seeing


them succeed. That'll be my mark of my success.


If they succeed, it's my success. If I if they don't succeed, it's my


failure. But I, I couldn't have a better group of


people and a greater simpatico in terms of that


element of, you know, where we're going on the same basic approaches and the


same basic culture.

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Related Tags
Financial CrisisRisk ManagementDiversificationBusiness SuccessionPersonal GrowthRay DalioBridgewater AssociatesEconomic InsightLeadership TransitionInvestment Strategy