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 17,159.45 27.48 0.16%
Nasdaq 4,556.83 4.07 0.09%
S&P 500 2,002.67 3.69 0.18%
Treasuries 2.57 -0.02 -0.58%
Data as of 9:54am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 101.31 0.45 0.45%
Yahoo! Inc 42.66 -0.05 -0.12%
Bank of America Corp... 16.79 0.08 0.48%
Alcoa Inc 16.16 0.00 0.00%
Microsoft Corp 46.53 -0.23 -0.49%
Data as of 9:39am ET

Sections

When will the Fed raise rates? It all depends on whether the phrase 'considerable time' is or isn't in the Fed's statement. More

Frederick Hutson launched Pigeon.ly in 2012 to help inmates communicate with their friends and family. He's on target for $1 million in sales this year. More

Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt says it has abolished nearly $4 million in private student loan debt for students who attended Everest College, part of Corinthian Colleges. More

Market indexes 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. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.