You might think that a Wall Street legend like Sir John would have lived extravagantly, but he actually committed himself to a lifelong practice of thrift. Early in his career, he established thrifty habits that he carried on even as his fortune grew.

Some examples:

  • He scoured newspapers looking for furniture auctions and estate sales where he knew he’d find the best deals. For example, he was rather proud of having paid $5 for sofa bed worth almost $200.
  • He often challenged his network of friends to find the best “blue plate specials” around the city.
  • He purchased a home for $5,000 in cash (which he sold five years later for $17,000).

Thrifty living was one of the cornerstones of his success, and he preached its merit in both bull and bear markets. There has always been some debate though about whether thrift really is the best practice to encourage during economic downturns. With our present crisis, for example, some say that a revival of restrained consumerism is the only way to fix an ailing economy. Othersfollowing a tradition of economic thought dating back to John Maynard Keynessay that while thrifty practices, like saving more and cutting back on expenses, may benefit the individual in the short term, these same practices will sink the economy, as a whole, deeper and deeper into trouble.

keynes

John Maynard Keynes

This coming Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Templeton Press, along with The King’s College and The Institute for American Values, will host a panel discussion on this “paradox of thrift” featuring opinion leaders such as David Blankenhorn, Justin Fox, and Robert Frank. The event will be held at The King’s College’s Empire State Building location and will begin at 5:30. Additional information about the event may be obtained by contacting Sharon Kelly: 484.531.8380, or
e-mail: publicity@templetonpress.org. Please e-mail advancement@tkc.edu if you plan to attend.