Warren Buffett is one of my favorite persons of money.  I have always listened to him.  He has more money than God and yet remains a humble man.  He isn’t rolling his bucks over to his kids in great quanities either.  I guess he thinks it will ruin them.  He also knows he isn’t an economist, but he has certainly handled billions of dollars, quite well I might add.

Warren Buffett has written a letter to his country, Uncle Sam, about the crash of 2008 that we are still coming out of.  Buffet understands the severity  and Buffett isn’t second-guessing.  In its entirety from the New York Times:


DEAR Uncle Sam,

My mother told me to send thank-you notes promptly. I’ve been remiss.

Let me remind you why I’m writing. Just over two years ago, in September 2008, our country faced an economic meltdown. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the pillars that supported our mortgage system, had been forced into conservatorship. Several of our largest commercial banks were teetering. One of Wall Street’s giant investment banks had gone bankrupt, and the remaining three were poised to follow. A.I.G., the world’s most famous insurer, was at death’s door.

Many of our largest industrial companies, dependent on commercial paper financing that had disappeared, were weeks away from exhausting their cash resources. Indeed, all of corporate America’s dominoes were lined up, ready to topple at lightning speed. My own company, Berkshire Hathaway, might have been the last to fall, but that distinction provided little solace.

Nor was it just business that was in peril: 300 million Americans were in the domino line as well. Just days before, the jobs, income, 401(k)’s and money-market funds of these citizens had seemed secure. Then, virtually overnight, everything began to turn into pumpkins and mice. There was no hiding place. A destructive economic force unlike any seen for generations had been unleashed.

Only one counterforce was available, and that was you, Uncle Sam. Yes, you are often clumsy, even inept. But when businesses and people worldwide race to get liquid, you are the only party with the resources to take the other side of the transaction. And when our citizens are losing trust by the hour in institutions they once revered, only you can restore calm.

When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.

Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic — and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.

I don’t know precisely how you orchestrated these. But I did have a pretty good seat as events unfolded, and I would like to commend a few of your troops. In the darkest of days, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Sheila Bair grasped the gravity of the situation and acted with courage and dispatch. And though I never voted for George W. Bush, I give him great credit for leading, even as Congress postured and squabbled.

You have been criticized, Uncle Sam, for some of the earlier decisions that got us in this mess — most prominently, for not battling the rot building up in the housing market. But then few of your critics saw matters clearly either. In truth, almost all of the country became possessed by the idea that home prices could never fall significantly.

That was a mass delusion, reinforced by rapidly rising prices that discredited the few skeptics who warned of trouble. Delusions, whether about tulips or Internet stocks, produce bubbles. And when bubbles pop, they can generate waves of trouble that hit shores far from their origin. This bubble was a doozy and its pop was felt around the world.

So, again, Uncle Sam, thanks to you and your aides. Often you are wasteful, and sometimes you are bullying. On occasion, you are downright maddening. But in this extraordinary emergency, you came through — and the world would look far different now if you had not.

Your grateful nephew,


Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.



11 Thoughts to “Warren Buffett’s Letter to Uncle Sam”

  1. So, in other words, “Thanks for the bailout.”

    That was nice of him to thank the tax payers.


    He uses his connections for insider information. He uses tax laws to buy family businesses on the cheap.

  2. You don’t like Warren Buffett? bwaaahahahahahahaha

    You read too much red stuff, cargo.

  3. Pat.Herve

    Cargo – funny that you would knock him for using the existing laws and loopholes to manage his business – isn’t that the American way, and the reason for all the tax loopholes in the first place. He is actually one of the few truly wealthy people that says that our tax system needs reform. He also pays a smaller percentage of his salary in taxes than his staff – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu5B-2LoC4s&feature=player_embedded – and claims to not use tax shelters or fancy stuff to do it. He remembers when capital gains taxes were 40%, and he still worked to get those capital gains. And I think you have the equation wrong, it was ‘them’ (Paulson, Geitner, AIG, GS, Amex, etc) who were calling HIM to lend them the money that he had, and they needed. Just like Fuld was pursuing him – http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2010/03/11/hail-mary-to-warren-buffett-untold-details-of-lehman-failure/

  4. @Pat, and as I recall, he did lend his money. He also bought up huge amounts of something to help out. I don’t recall the details.

    I simply don’t see why he is the enemy. Is it because he didn’t vote for George Bush?

  5. Wolverine

    I see from his telephone interview with CNBC that Warren Buffett is also not very keen on Ben Bernanke’s QE2. Warren believes that it won’t make much difference to the economy and will probably succeed in lessening confidence in the dollar. What you have to say about Buffett’s public persona is that he avoids getting labelled as being in one “camp” or another (with the exception of being a money maker par excellence). He apparently calls ’em as he sees ’em at the moment he sees ’em. I really got a chuckle when, not long ago, he actually wrote a letter of apology to his Hathaway-Berkshire stockholders for having made some bad investment decisions during the previous year. The guy knows how to stay in touch. Gotta give him that.

  6. Wolverine

    Ooops – make that “Berkshire Hathaway.”

  7. Actually, that was no knock. I’m just reporting what he does. I actually like him for his business acumen. I just find it ironic that people think that he so successful purely because of the market when the truth is that he’s connected and uses those connections to make deals. AIG had to pay 5% on the loan from the feds. He made 10%.

  8. He is my favorite person of wealth, mainly because he knows what is going on and has retained his humility.

  9. Cato the Elder

    Actually if you tick off that list of bad policy you’ll notice that it was, for the most part, done/undone by um… Republicans. They screwed up. You had Fannie and Freddie in the mix but there’s no way that they could have expanded their balance sheets to the extent that they did without the wild west derivatives some of that legislation enabled.

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