Thursday, November 18, 2010

Will the real Warren Buffett please stand up?

On Tuesday November 16, 2010 Warren Buffett wrote a New York Times Op-Ed praising government actions in the financial crisis:
When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.

Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic — and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.
One of the "people" who second guessed Uncle Sam`s decision turned out to be Buffett himself. Contrast Buffett`s latest comments with the Op-Ed he wrote back in August 18, 2009, where he warned about the risks of rising fiscal deficits and "unchecked greenback emissions":
Our immediate problem is to get our country back on its feet and flourishing — “whatever it takes” still makes sense. Once recovery is gained, however, Congress must end the rise in the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio and keep our growth in obligations in line with our growth in resources.

Unchecked carbon emissions will likely cause icebergs to melt. Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar’s destiny lies with Congress.
Since the 2009 Op-Ed, the current account deficit has widened and the fiscal deficit has taken off like a rocket. We now have unprecedented levels of "greenback emissions" in the form of QE2.

How is the government then doing such a good job?
I suppose that the better question might be: "Who are you and what have you done with Warren?"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I don't exactly understand the contradiction. He wrote about the Government "did" a good job "during" the crisis. Where did he write about the government "doing" a good job now or where did he comment on the present policies?