Monday, March 07, 2005
Courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.M.: In the course of explaining to Yr. Irate Liege why his shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A have been lagging the market, the world's second-richest man happened to mention that our policymakers are selling us all into indentured servitude:
Warren Buffett, one of the world's most successful investors, has launched his most withering attack to date on the US trade deficit, describing Americans as "rich spending junkies" who could turn into a nation of "sharecroppers".
In his annual letter to investors in Berkshire Hathaway, the fund he has run for more than 30 years, Mr Buffett painted a bleak picture of a future US in which ownership and wealth had continued to move overseas, leaving the economy in thrall to foreign interests and faced with financial turmoil and political unrest . . . .
The 74-year-old told investors he "tap-danced to work" and promised them this year's meeting of investors would be another "Woodstock for capitalists". However, on the subject of the US trade deficit, his passions appear to be stirred. "This force-feeding of American wealth to the rest of the world is now proceeding at the rate of $1.8bn daily."
Mr Buffett said in the last 10 years foreign powers and their citizens had accrued about $3 trillion worth of US debt and assets such as equities and real estate. At current rates, he predicted that in another 10 years' time the net ownership of the US by outsiders would amount to $11 trillion.
"This annual royalty paid [to] the world would undoubtedly produce significant political unrest in the US. Americans ... would chafe at the idea of perpetually paying tribute to their creditors and owners abroad. A country that is now aspiring to an 'ownership society' will not find happiness in - and I'll use hyperbole here for emphasis - a 'sharecropper's society'."