11/03/16: Buffett's letter to investors


Once again Warren Buffett has presented a compelling long-term view of the growth potential of the US economy. In doing so he draws upon his long lifetime experience to explain that betting against the USA was and remains a foolish investment endeavor…

“For 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start. America’s golden goose of commerce and innovation will continue to lay more and larger eggs. America’s social security promises will be honoured and perhaps made more generous. And, yes, America’s kids will live far better than their parents did.”

The following few sentences, from his introduction, make some telling observations about the last 80 years and the future of the USA..

“It’s an election year, and candidates can’t stop speaking about our country’s problems (which, of course, only they can solve). As a result of this negative drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves do. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history. American GDP per capita is now about $56,000. As I mentioned last year that – in real terms – is a staggering six times the amount in 1930, the year I was born, a leap far beyond the wildest dreams of my parents or their contemporaries. U.S. citizens are not intrinsically more intelligent today, nor do they work harder than did Americans in 1930. Rather, they work far more efficiently and thereby produce far more. This all-powerful trend is certain to continue: America’s economic magic remains alive and well.”

“Today’s politicians need not shed tears for tomorrow’s children. Indeed, most of today’s children are doing well. All families in my upper middle-class neighbourhood regularly enjoy a living standard better than that achieved by John D. Rockefeller Sr. at the time of my birth. His unparalleled fortune couldn’t buy what we now take for granted, whether the field is – to name just a few – transportation, entertainment, communication or medical services. Rockefeller certainly had power and fame; he could not, however, live as well as my neighbours now do. Though the pie to be shared by the next generation will be far larger than today’s, how it will be divided will remain fiercely contentious. Just as is now the case, there will be struggles for the increased output of goods and services between those people in their productive years and retirees, between the healthy and the infirm, between the inheritors and the Horatio Algers, between investors and workers and, in particular, between those with talents that are valued highly by the marketplace and the equally decent hard-working Americans who lack the skills the market prizes. Clashes of that sort have forever been with us – and will forever continue. Congress will be the battlefield; money and votes will be the weapons. Lobbying will remain a growth industry.”

Warren Buffett's logical and optimistic sentiments serve as a gentle reminder to investors, retirees and superannuation members alike that current economic or market conditions are not necessarily predictive. We are always in a 'cycle', and like all cycles (good or bad), they eventually must come to an end.

For more information, contact Rick Maggi on 9382 8885 or rickmaggi@westmount.com.au.