Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buffet says worst is behind us

Warren Buffet has always been, for me, a voice of reason and encouragement in the wilderness of financial negativity. On the heels of remarks from Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke earlier this week, Buffet has echoed the sentiment and believes we are on the road to a slow but measurable recovery. Housing is also showing signs of recovery.

For those unfamiliar with Buffet, he is called "The Oracle of Omaha." He has amassed a billionaire's fortune, but still lives in his modest frame home in Omaha from which he oversees the vast holdings of Berkshire Hathaway. Together with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and their wives, the vast majority of their fortunes have been locked away in charitable trusts that will perpetuate long after they are all gone.

"I think the odds are very much against getting significantly worse. It's sort of plateaued at the — at the bottom right now," Buffett said to CNBC. But he said things could get worse if there were some new catastrophe like the September 11 terrorist attacks.

There are those in the world today who would have us believe the bottom is more likely to fall out from under us. I can cite a long list of people in my lifetime whose predictions of mass calamity have proven less than spectacular. The pessimists are always symbolized best to me by people like Howard Ruff (remember Ruff Times?). The good times actually outlived Howard Ruff's viability. I first met him when he was a broken and sad spectre after his fifteen minutes of fame had been extinguished. There are a number of evangelicals who examine the Book of Revelation, and are constantly updating their dire predictions too, like Hal Lindsey (remember The Late Great Planet Earth back in the 70s?). Since the 70s, Lindsey continues to revise and extend his doomsday scenarios. He always comes to mind as emblematic of that class of doomsdayers. It's a very long list -- avoid their ilk at all costs.

I suppose one day they will all finally be right and the end will come, but based on all I see and can assimilate, those predictions are still premature.

The Oracle of Omaha's comments followed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's statement Tuesday that the worst recession since the 1930s is "very likely over."

"A year ago, Buffett said the nation was facing an economic Pearl Harbor, and this week, he commended some of the heroes of the nation's economic war. Buffett said the heroes include Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"Buffett said it's easy to look back at the crisis now and find things that might have been done differently, but the important part is that the nation came through the crisis and appears to be on the path to recovery.

"Buffett's Berkshire owns more than 60 subsidiaries including insurance, clothing, furniture, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants, natural-gas and corporate jet firms and has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co."

Just be careful out there. Filter out all the noise and listen to, search for and learn from independent voices like Buffet's. I guarantee the shrill rants from the far right or the far left are not the best source for truth in your life. What is "fair and balanced," is not a judgment Fox News should be making for you. Neither is an extreme left-wing government-sponsored takeover of health care. You'll do better with your own assessment if it is reasoned and well-researched. Keep an eye on what the majority of Americans are thinking and feeling. The majority, even if a slim one, of Americans usually get it right, and like the political spectrum the majority that usually gets it right doesn't live on the extreme east or west coasts -- they're in the middle known by the elitists as the "flyover zone!" (See Mosiah 29 again).

Find hope, find peace and keep planting your cherry trees -- you do have a future!

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