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Charlie Munger warns of market 'frenzy'; frowns on gambling mentality, bitcoin, SPACs

(Reuters) - Charlie Munger, the longtime business partner of Warren Buffett, on Wednesday warned that the stock market bears signs of a bubble, reflecting a “dangerous” mentality among some investors to gamble on stocks as they would horse races.

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Munger, 97, lamented the recent mania for GameStop Corp, in which amateur investors encouraged each other online to buy the gaming retailer on platforms including Robinhood, and caught some hedge funds in a short squeeze.

“It’s really stupid to have a culture which encourages as much gambling in stocks by people who have the mindset of racetrack bettors,” he said.

“A lot of them crowd in to buying stocks on frenzy, frequently on credit, because they see that they’re going up, and of course that’s a very dangerous way to invest.”

Asked if the market resembled the late-1990s dot-com bubble, Munger said: “Yes, I think it must end badly, but I don’t know when.”

Munger was speaking at the annual meeting of Daily Journal Corp, the Los Angeles newspaper publisher he chairs, which was broadcast on Yahoo Finance.

He is better known as vice chairman of Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc since 1978.

Munger said investors should not buy gold or bitcoin, noting the latter was too volatile to become a “medium of exchange for the world.”

He paraphrased author Oscar Wilde’s quotation about fox hunting to describe bitcoin, calling it “the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable.”

Munger also expressed disdain for the surging demand for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which raise money from investors and then merge with private companies to take them public, in “blank check” arrangements.

“The world would be better off without them,” Munger said.

“This kind of crazy speculation in enterprises not even found or picked out yet is a sign of an irritating bubble,” he said. “It’s just that the investment banking profession will sell shit as long as shit can be sold.”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang

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