Few people are more qualified to dispense business philosophy in Cambridge than investor and hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio, a Harvard Business School (HBS) graduate and one of the 100 richest people in the world.
Last fall he published “Principles,” a book that outlines the philosophies behind his work at Bridgewater Associates, the investment management firm he started in 1975 after earning his M.B.A. Addressing a standing-room-only audience at Harvard Kennedy School Wednesday evening, he discussed “Pursuing Truth in the Global Economy” with a longtime friend and intellectual sparring partner, Lawrence H. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Frank and Denie Weil Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, and Harvard president emeritus.
Summers introduced Dalio as “an American success story,” one of whose first paying jobs was a golf caddy. (He once carried clubs for Richard Nixon, who didn’t impress him on the links.) Summers said that Dalio had already become a successful trader before coming to Harvard — making his first purchase of Northeast Airlines stock at age 12. “I only bought that stock because it was the only company I could find that was selling for less than $5 a share, so I thought I’d get more money if it went up. Dumb, isn’t it?” Dalio said. Still, Northeast’s value tripled, and that gave Dalio his first modest success. “From then on, Ray was hooked,” Summers said.