Saturday, February 26, 2011

Warren Buffett also a collapsitarian?

Financial guru Warren Buffett, who in this generation fills the same niche as Billy Graham did in the 1960s and 1970s, this week issued an annual letter to shareholders of his company in which he said:
The prophets of doom have overlooked the all-important factor that is certain: Human potential is far from exhausted, and the American system for unleashing that potential -- a system that has worked wonders for over two centuries despite frequent interruptions for recessions and even a Civil War -- remains alive and effective. Now, as in 1776, 1861, 1932 and 1941, America's best day's lie ahead."
Oh, great. It's like he thinks everyone wiped their forehead in 1865 at the end of the Civil Way and said, "All right -- the system worked!" People in 1932 -- "The Dust Bowl and 40% unemployment? Is that all you got!? Happy days are here again!"

(Indeed, the song Happy Days Are Here Again -- written in 1929 -- appeared in no fewer than 19 films from 1930 to 1932, and was the theme for FDR's first presidential campaign. No doubt Buffett remembers it from that -- oh, he was only 2 at the time. But it's interesting to think that this happy little song, which is associated with American optimism in the depths of the Depression, might summarize Buffett's thinking.)

Does this make you feel optimistic about investing in the stock market? The company you invest in might be burned to the ground. And it isn't that far from what the dystopian collapsitarians are saying. (See my post from November, 'End Is Near' warning just as timely as it was a year ago!)

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