Warren Buffett...All Too Human
Thanks to Commodity at GuruFocus for bringing the Michael Lewis article in The New Republic, The Master of Money, to my attention. In it, Lewis reviews Snowball, the Warren Buffett biography by Alice Shroeder, and injects his interpretation of Buffett. To put it bluntly, Lewis skewers Buffett like few others ever have, and probably ever will. However, in doing so, we actually end up seeing how Warren Buffett is a flawed human just like any of us. Michael Lewis is not a fan of Warren Buffett but his respect of Buffett acutally increases in the end. I highly recommend this article, which provides an insight into the flaws of Warren Buffett.
Which brings us, oddly, to our present financial crisis. There has never really been a bad time in the last fifty years to be Warren Buffett, but just now would seem to be less favorable than most. If Buffett still measures his life by the book value per share of Berkshire Hathaway, then for the first time in forty years he must feel like a wasting asset. His share price is still off more than 40 percent from its highs, underperforming even the S&P 500. He railed against derivatives as weapons of mass destruction, and now turns out to have been sitting on a $68 billion pile of credit default swaps and exotic put options on various stock market indexes. And having vowed never again to become entangled in a big Wall Street investment bank, he has gone and sunk $10 billion into Goldman Sachs, a virtual re-enactment of his investment in Salomon Brothers--cash for reputation. The difference this time is that he has gotten himself a sweeter deal than not merely ordinary shareholders, but also the U.S. Treasury.
On the surface at least, he seems like a guy who has spent the last few years ignoring all of his own best advice...
(source: The Master of Money, by Michael Lewis. The New Republic. June 03, 2009)