Fiorello! was a 1959 musical based on the life of Fiorello La Guardia, the mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945 (pictured). It tells the story of how he transformed New York politics, against the opposition of the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine and the indifference of fellow Republicans. It enjoyed several successful runs on Broadway, winning a Tony award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (something only eight other musicals have achieved in the 82 years it has been running).
The key moment
When La Guardia finally becomes mayor, he cracks down on corruption, and several officials are hauled before a judge to explain the huge discrepancy between their extravagant lifestyles and modest city salaries.
In the song Little Tin Box the officials claim that they can afford the difference by temporarily making modest sacrifices and saving the difference. For example, one says he was able to afford a private yacht by quitting smoking for "one month or two", while another contends that by putting aside the money from "takin' empty bottles to the grocer", he could afford a new Rolls-Royce.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
The lesson for investors
Cutting out needless expenditure (especially unhealthy habits such as cigarettes) and investing the amount is always a good idea. Sadly, there are limits to what regular saving can achieve, especially if the amounts are relatively small or the time frame is very short. In the end, you need to be realistic about your investment goals. If you want to build up enough money for retirement, there is no getting away from the need to save significant sums of money consistently and take appropriate levels of risk.
Other financial wisdom
In the song The Bum Won, the Republican establishment members lament that, while La Guardia won, they are unlikely to benefit, either personally or politically, because they refused to support him during his campaign. Similarly, in investment it's not enough to find a good share you need to back it with significant amounts of money and resist the temptation to cash out of it prematurely. Of course, if you stay in a company too long, then you run the risk of losing the money you have gained, so it's a question of judgement.
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
Energy price cap to fall 12.3% from April - what it means for your energy bills
Ofgem, the energy regulator has set its latest price cap which will see energy bill drop by 12.3% this spring. Here's what to expect from April
By Henry Sandercock Last updated
The end of China’s boom
Like the US, China too got fat on fake money. Now, China's doom is not far away.
By Bill Bonner Published