These explanations produced guffaws and rage among cash and gold investors—and assertions of “book-talking” and senility.
Warren Buffett, the smug cash-hoarders and gold bugs agreed, has lost it.
Maybe he got lucky in his early investing days—maybe he even made a smart call or two—but that was a long, long time ago.
Now, he’s just an old fool.
Well, this cat-calling brings to mind the last time everyone concluded that Warren Buffett had lost it—the last two times, actually.
The first was in the late 1990s, after many years in which technology stocks outpaced the rest of the markets—with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway lagging badly because Buffett didn’t own them.
At a Berkshire annual meeting in Omaha, a shareholder got up and asked Buffett why he didn’t buy technology stocks.
Buffett said something along the lines of he just didn’t understand them.
This prompted ridicule from slap-happy tech investors the world over who understood tech stocks so profoundly that they knew that you didn’t even have to know what a company did to make money—you just had to buy.
And it caused even sober, normally astute commentators to wonder whether Warren Buffett had lost it.
But, as the markets soon revealed, Buffett hadn’t lost it. And he understood tech stocks just fine.
And over the next couple of years, Berkshire’s tech-free portfolio did astoundingly well, especially relative to the NASDAQ.
More recently, there was Buffett’s famous editorial in the New York Times on October 16, 2008—right in the heart of the financial crisis and market crash.
“Buy American stocks,” Buffett said. “I am.”
And, whoa Nelly, did everyone think Buffett had lost it that time!
Global markets were crashing, banks were going bust, the financial system and economy were on their knees… even Joe Schmo could see that that kindly old fellow in Omaha had just become an old fool.
And, for a few months, the howlers were right: The markets continued to crash.
But then, just when everyone on earth came to agree that the global economy was going to collapse and dumped their stocks in a panic, markets started to rise. And they haven’t stopped rising since.
And that old fool in Omaha, needless to say, is now deeply in the money, whereas many folks who sold in a panic are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for a “safe” time to get back in.
So is Warren Buffett’s current preference for stocks over cash and gold for long-term investments proof that this time, finally, he really has lost it?
We’d bet his stocks against your cash and gold that he hasn’t.
And if we were loaded to the gills with cash and gold, we’d spend at least a few minutes wondering, once again, if Warren Buffett might actually be right.
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