The Right Coast
March 06, 2005
Warren Buffet, please shut up
By Tom Smith
The problem with low probability events in the world of finance is, they have mouths. Warren Buffet, who has made billions buying and holding stocks in real American companies, now wants to criticize Americans for spending too much. This from a guy who flies around in his own jet and generally spends more money than you and everyone in your extended family, times ten. Yes, yes, he lives modestly for a multi-billionaire. He lives like a multi-millionaire. Big deal. At some point, you get rich enough that you decide the real psychological returns are in exercising corporate power and shooting off your mouth. That doesn't make you the Dalai Lama.
Every million or so trials, someone is going to end up the one-in-a-million winner. Buffet has yet to say anything that makes me think he is a genius. Buying into McDonalds like he did with Sir Bill also suggests he has no crystal ball. Nor is there any reason to think he understands the world economy any better than that other billionaire who cannot form a cogent sentence, George Soros. If you don't believe me, just try reading one of Mr. Soros's books. Proof positive that a billion dollars plus Euro-philosophy does not a clear head make. While I'm on the subject, George, do what any sensible billionaire does, and hire some underemployed PhD to write an intelligent book for you. It will be easier for all of us.
Americans spend a lot of money because they like to. They have savings in the form of 401k's and real estate. The Japanese saved like crazy and look where it got them. Bet they wish they had bought jewelry, cars, anything rather than their worthless savings. In a globe as global as ours, it's not even clear what trade deficits mean, yet alone how bad they are.
Last time Buffet spoke up it was to support the death tax. If you're so rich you can leave all your kids millions, and still have more than you know what to do with, I guess the death tax is one more way to pose as above materialism. What a crock. Buffet's the winner of a coin-flipping contest, and should have the good grace not to pretend he understands more than the rest of us about the future of the world economy. If we want overblown, self-impressed, self-serving gloomy sententiousness, we always have Paul Krugman. So do us all a favor, Warren. Have a nice big cup of shut the hell up, and work on your 4 iron, like rich guys your age should.