Author Zweig on what makes Buffett the greatest investor of all time, how to trade bitcoin

Key Points
  • Jason Zweig tells the 2nd-annual Evidence-Based Investing conference how Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are so successful at investing.
  • They are "inversely emotional and are able to turn emotions inside out," he says.
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Investing columnist Jason Zweig said the most successful investors are those who can put emotion aside.

During a discussion at the 2nd-annual Evidence-Based Investing conference in New York on Thursday, Ritholtz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown asked Zweig for his list of the greatest investors of all time.

"It would be ridiculous not to name Buffett," said Zweig, a Wall Street Journal columnist, referring to Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett. He also said Berkshire's Charlie Munger belongs on the list.

The columnist said these two investors have a special innate ability not to let emotions affect their decisions.

They are "inversely emotional and are able to turn emotions inside out," he said. In addition, they are "acutely sensitive to the fear inside other people" and are able to take advantage of it.

Zweig added that Munger, who is also the chairman of Daily Journal, doesn't do anything 99.5 percent of the time, but "when he does something he throws big money at the thing."

Munger invested Daily Journal's assets in three bank stocks in March 2009, when the market hit a post-financial-crisis low.

Zweig recalled he asked Munger how he was able to do that, when the financial world was falling apart.

Munger's reply was, "What would be hard about that?" Zweig said.

Zweig also gave advice for people looking to invest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

"Make sure you look first at an exit strategy before investing," Zweig said. "Either it is going to be worth nothing or a lot of money."

He said investors should figure out a plan for what to do if the price goes up rapidly to guard against emotional decisions.

"Nothing is as poisonous to rational investing as making a massive amount of money," Zweig added.

Ritholtz's Brown replied, "My exit strategy for bitcoin is to have it stolen from me."

Zweig has written investing books including "Your Money and Your Brain" and "The Devil's Financial Dictionary." He also edited a revised edition of Benjamin Graham's "The Intelligent Investor," which Buffett once described as "by far the best book about investing ever written."

Disclosure: Josh Brown is a CNBC contributor.

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