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Warren Buffett: “Wall Street Owes the American People”

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 9, 2009 11:36 AM |

Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett

When the Oracle of Omaha speaks, people listen. What is Warren Buffett saying now? What does he see on our economic landscape? How do we prepare? We can let Warren be our guide, but let’s make sure we question him aggressively as we manage our own finances.

ABC News reports, Warren Buffett Backs Second Stimulus:

Buffett cautioned that a second stimulus package, like the first, won’t be “a panacea,” because stimulus packages take time to work. He criticized lawmakers’ work on the first stimulus package, which contained $787 billion in spending.

“Our first stimulus bill … was sort of like taking half a tablet of Viagra and having also a bunch of candy mixed in … as if everybody was putting in enough for their own constituents,” he said. “It doesn’t have really quite the wall that might have been anticipated there.”

Not for nothing, but where was Warren at the time the initial bill was rammed through Congress? Warren is a close economic adviser of Obama’s but he does us no favor by playing his political cards when our country is screaming for real economic leadership.

In regard to the PPIP? What does Warren think about this government program to help banks cleanse their books of toxic assets?

Buffett also criticized the government’s public-private investment plan, through which private investors are supposed to buy so-called toxic assets off the balance sheets of ailing banks that received billions in government aid.

“I do not like the idea of any kind of a plan involving the government where Wall Street makes a lot of money. My plan provided that they would make no money whatsoever, and the American public would make the money. I just think that Wall Street owes the American people one at this point,” he said.  (LD’s emphasis)

How about the economy? What does the Oracle see in his crystal ball? The grand swami believes that:

. . . despite the talk of recent economic “green shoots,” he couldn’t predict when the flagging economy would bounce back.

“We are not in a freefall, but we are not in a recovery either,” Buffett said. “We were in a freefall really in the last quarter of last year, starting in the financial markets and spreading to the economy, and we had this huge change in behavior. That change hasn’t changed.”

I concur. Warren is not totally clear, but in so many words he is saying the American economy is adjusting to the lack of a shadow banking system.

How about over the long haul? Does Warren think America will rebound? He is very optimistic, as ABC reports:

“I want to emphasize, we are going to come out of this better than ever,” he said. “I mean the best days of America, by far, lie ahead. But not next week or next month and then, I don’t know exactly when we will come out, but we will come out big time.”

That’s great. I am also eternally optimistic. That said, things do not just happen and we will not have better days without reinstilling strong discipline and values throughout our economy and our country. In my opinion, those disciplines and values need to encompass the following:

1. honesty on where we currently stand across all aspects of our economy and society. Publicize our successes and, more importantly, our failures so we can properly address them.

Do not allow urban education dropout rates of 50% to be swept under the rug. Promote the correlation between those figures, single parent birth rates, income levels, and criminal behaviors. BE HONEST ON THESE TOPICS!!!

2. Expose the lack of integrity and transparency in our financial and political institutions. Hold people accountable!!

That is a good start. Warren has the bully pulpit. Perhaps he could speak aggressively on these topics in the future.


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