Buffett to Uncle Sam: Thanks

By Charles Riley, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Financial titan Warren Buffett praised the U.S. government's response to the financial crisis Wednesday, writing in an open letter addressed to "Uncle Sam" that Washington responded well to a "destructive economic force unlike any seen for generations."

"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," Buffett said in an op-ed published in the New York Times.

After describing corporate America in September 2008 as a series of dominoes "ready to topple at lightning speed," Buffett paints the U.S. government as the backstop preventing collapse.

"Only one counterforce was available, and that was you, Uncle Sam," Buffett wrote. "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."

Members of both the Obama and Bush administrations earn specific praise from Buffett.

"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," Buffett writes. "And though I never voted for George W. Bush, I give him great credit for leading, even as Congress postured and squabbled."

And for critics who blame lax government oversight and regulation for the collapse of the housing market, Buffett again defends "Uncle Sam."

"In truth, almost all of the country became possessed by the idea that home prices could never fall significantly," Buffett said.

"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," he added.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500), Buffett's company, might have been the last to fall, "but that distinction provided little solace," he said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,356.87 288.00 1.69%
Nasdaq 4,644.31 96.48 2.12%
S&P 500 2,012.89 40.15 2.04%
Treasuries 2.15 0.08 3.72%
Data as of 9:45pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.26 0.54 3.23%
General Electric Co 24.66 0.17 0.69%
Apple Inc 109.41 2.66 2.50%
Cisco Systems Inc 26.81 0.22 0.85%
Microsoft Corp 45.74 0.58 1.28%
Data as of 4:04pm ET

Sections

That number will likely grow as the Obama Administration eases restrictions with the Communist country. More

Laurie Segall sits down with Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and founder of AeroFS, Yuri Sagalov, to discuss how immigration reform could bring more skilled tech workers to the U.S. More

News startup The Skimm announced a new round of funding, 1 million active readers, and plans to expand into a 'lifestyle brand.' More

Congress waited until the last minute to decide what to do with a slew of expired tax breaks. They extended most of them, and a handful will affect individuals directly. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.