Friday, October 17, 2008

Opinion piece by Warren Buffett

With the STI coming down to 1880 and DJ showing no signs of breaking down from its fast and rapid decline southwards, there is plenty of fear in the market. Once, I had heard of people talking about stocks and shares..but now, the library is full of books on investing that nobody is interested to borrow and everyone is not looking at the share prices now. Is it the first sign of market bottoming?

My support level for STI is still 1800, which I think is a pretty safe level to do something with your excess cash. Do not be like ferrochina who over leveraged itself; use those savings that you do not need for the next 5-10 yrs, for who knows how long this episode will last. Popular sayings are that the crisis will last 7 months, based on historical bear markets...so perhaps in mid 2009, we'll be seeing some semblance of stability again?

Below is the encouraging post by Warren Buffett for all who has an interest in the stock market. His adage, while getting close to being cliches, are still simple and easy to understand. Just don't do it blindly :)

Here's his opinion piece:

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This is the text of an opinion piece written by Warren Buffett and published in the New York Times on Friday, October 17, 2008:

Buy American. I am.

By Warren E. Buffett

The financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

Why?

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

A little history here: During the Depression, the Dow hit its low, 41, on July 8, 1932. Economic conditions, though, kept deteriorating until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By that time, the market had already advanced 30 percent. Or think back to the early days of World War II, when things were going badly for the United States in Europe and the Pacific. The market hit bottom in April 1942, well before Allied fortunes turned. Again, in the early 1980s, the time to buy stocks was when inflation raged and the economy was in the tank. In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

You might think it would have been impossible for an investor to lose money during a century marked by such an extraordinary gain. But some investors did. The hapless ones bought stocks only when they felt comfort in doing so and then proceeded to sell when the headlines made them queasy.

Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

I don’t like to opine on the stock market, and again I emphasize that I have no idea what the market will do in the short term. Nevertheless, I’ll follow the lead of a restaurant that opened in an empty bank building and then advertised: “Put your mouth where your money was.” Today my money and my mouth both say equities.

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

7 comments :

Roman said...

This is a great time to invest for both long term and short. The amount of capital that is currently being compressed will launch the market into the atmosphere. Once the people have faith in them again.

la papillion said...

Hi roman,

I'm not so optimistic yet :) haha, but let's be cautiously optimistic :)

Anonymous said...

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Recently an insurance company nearly wind up....
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A bank is nearly bankrupt......filing chapter 11 protection.
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How it affect you? Did you buy insurance? Did you buy mini note or bonds?
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Who fault?
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They bailout trouble finance company, but they will not bail out your credit card bills…….Should they have use the bail out $$ to pump into all different industries instead ……You got no choice, and no point pointing finger but you can prevent similar things from happen again……
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Are you a partisan?
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Since the bailout already done, the question now is besides letting the economic back on track, what regulation should be done to prevent similar things from happen again…..

Eg.
The top management of the Public listed company ( belong to "public" ) monthly salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares price ( IPO or ave 5 years ).... so when the shares price drop, it don't just penalise the investors, but those who don't take well care of the company.....If this rule is pass on, without any need of further regulation, all industries ( as long as it is public listed ) will be self regulated......because the top management will be concern about their own pay check…… Instead of spending big money on hotel stay and luxury function……..Top management get monthly salary and director fee, while shareholders & investor get dividends….So those shareholder cum management get…..
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Whenever anywhere, anytime, there is election campaign.....We can use this to question your candidate there….. if you agree on my point, please share with many people as possible.... Finance and Media are the two only industries can shaken politics ( Maybe Hackers can ), please help to highlight also...

Also recently some comments say that Respectable Mr Buffet had start buying, yes, he started buying with guarantee return of 10% annually….. Do we individual investor had the same offer…. If yes, I will definitely join in and buy……and the institution will definitely wouldn't short of money if they offer the same terms to the individual investors..... When ever in the history previously did Mr Buffet claimed that he bought shares.....

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Blog
http://remindmyselfinstock.blogspot.com/
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Facebook, come and join as a friend and share with your friends…..
Remind.myself@yahoo.com

Eg:
Just image, Institution lent out the shares already, in their hand, they don't have any stock or shares already, but Institution know that in the market, there are those individual investor who borrow the share going to sell the stock, so Institution naked short also, because there is no restriction on those Institution that those stock or shares that lend out, cannot be trade by the institution at that moment.

Anonymous said...

La Pap,

Hello there. Funny thing that you mentioned that library is full of books on investment and trading that nobody wants to borrow.

I made that same observation a couple of weeks ago to dol when we had coffee. haha..:)

Market had a follow thro' on Thursday and I posted on the US direction thread. Lets see how far this carries us.

I am very happy with this market. Am able to get all the shares that I sold on May 22 at only 20-30% of the price...haha...

Cheers,
mm

la papillion said...

Hi MM,

Thks for visiting :)

You and dol meet up often? Hoho, heard you all went to drink orange juice too :)

I made the observation on the library books because I recalled that in 2006, a lot of pple on mrt are holding books on investing, TA and so on. I've got difficulty borrowing books from NLB. But these days, I've all my picks, which I'm very glad of :)

Wow...20-30% of price? haha, have you started buying back now? :)

Take care!

PanzerGrenadier said...

What Warren says is so true but most of us are gripped by FEAR and GREED in investing.

So while now is the time to buy as valuations are more affordable compared to 1 year ago, I too fear the low get lower risk.

But logically, if our horizon is longish, i.e. 10-15 years, now would be a good time to invest in blue chippish companies.

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

Buy in multiple tranches, sort of a DCA to catch the bottom :) I see a lot of fear around when I talked to people. Fear of debt ridden companies foreclosing, fear of market going down, fear of property prices spiralling downwards...so many fears :)