Warren Buffett Partners Forgotten Warning Still Haunts Stock Market
Berkshire Hathaway is about to release its third-quarter earnings report.
Critics are balking at its underperformance of the S&P 500 this year.
However, a prophetic statement from longtime Warren Buffett partner, Charlie Munger, which he made almost exactly a decade ago in 2009 (after the last bull market crashed), is highly relevant today.
Ahead of Berkshire Hathaway’s third-quarter earnings report today, some critics are scratching their heads. How could the “Oracle of Omaha,” the great Warren Buffett, lose so badly to the stock market’s bellwether S&P 500 index over the last year?
“Thumb-sucking has not cut the Heinz mustard during the Great Bull Market. The Great Bull could have been one helluva astounding career denouement for Messrs. Buffett and Munger.”
But it’s evident from their investing philosophy, that Messrs. Buffett and Munger don’t think the market is really worth its current prices.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s rotation of investors points to the question lingering as the conglomerate heads for its worst annual underperformance since 2009: Is it worth waiting for Warren Buffett to make a dent in his record $122 billion cash pile? https://t.co/VaTZYwTn9T
“People were making so much money, and the economy was doing so well, because it was being puffed up by this idiot boom, and idiot expansion of consumer credit, that everybody thought: ‘Oh isn’t this wonderful?’”
Then he compared the euphoria of stock market bull runs to shooting heroin:
“And of course it was. Your life in the next three weeks would be more pleasant if you went on heroin. But it would totally destroy you over the long pull. And that’s what an economy does when it allows itself to be seduced by the potential of an idiot boom, into allowing all this gross immorality and this craziness to take over.”
Above all, markets are supposed to allocate capital to its most productive uses, but this sure looks like an “idiot boom.” Rewarding this kind of capital destruction certainly qualifies as “gross immorality.” Charlie Munger might say the market has been getting high on the Fed’s supply. Warren Buffett has spent decades investing with a scrupulously sober temperament. It sure would be “one helluva astounding career denouement” for Berkshire to be caught riding this bull when it crashes.
Disclaimer: This article should not be considered investment advice from CCN.