Sometimes Nobel prizes go to their heads.
Take Linus Pauling. The man was one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for discovering the structure of protein molecules. Eight years later he won the Peace Prize for his advocacy on behalf of nuclear disarmament. He capped this distinguished career with … Vitamin C? Against all expectations, he is often remembered for promoting that daily mega-doses can cure head colds, the flu, cancer, and all sorts of other ailments.
Other Nobel laureates have done similarly foolish things. Lately Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer in the microlending movement, hasn’t been content to stick to his proven credit formula: extend small loans to female entrepreneurs and tie them together via small accountability groups. He now wants to speak out on political and public finance issues in his native Bangladesh.
Well, that’s a crowded trade. The world is full of financiers who get involved in politics. And the politics of a developing country can be rough. The current Prime Minister of Bangladesh is a democratically elected woman who worked her way up through the political process of a Parliamentary government in a Muslim nation. She’s tough.
So Yunus shouldn’t be surprised if the elbows get a little sharp. Because a Peace prize doesn’t win elections. And being smart doesn’t always make you wise.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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