press reaction to the Buffett letter

28 Feb

Warren Buffett’s annual letter came out Saturday and I found it to be one of his better. Amidst a wealth of insight, Buffett discussed the short- and long-term prospects for the U.S. economy. Not surprisingly, overwhelmingly the (mainstream) press reaction has focused on his bullishness about the United States’ future prospects and the ingenuity of its people. Close followers know this is nothing new for Buffett.

I’ve observed this cheer-leading getting more frequent, and it’s no surprise. Why? Berkshire is levered more than ever to the future prospects of the U.S. – rail, utilities, manufactured housing, building materials, furniture. In a major economic collapse, Berkshire would be hurt more than ever.
I’m not even implying that a major downturn is likely so Berkshire is a major risk. I am a personal stockholder so my own money is betting on my long-term belief in this company and its prospects.
I just don’t think it’s possible for Buffett to offer a completely candid view on broad issues like the economy. He will always be “talking his book” to some extent because he can actually influence how people behave. With public figures, as with researching investments, it’s important to “read the footnotes.”
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