> Warren Buffett Blog: Warren Buffett interview with Fortune 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Warren Buffett interview with Fortune 2016

Fortune: You are a person that has consistently been optimistic about America.

Buffett: Very.

Are you optimistic about America today?

Sure, sure. You can’t stop this country.

So the results of the election have not changed your optimism?

Not about the economics of the country. The aggregate output of this country per capita is going to keep going up. Now who gets it depends on what government decides in terms of tax laws and all that. But America will be a wealthier country per capita five years from now, ten years from now, and twenty years from now. You name it.

Do you think the stock market will be higher four years from now than it is today?

I would not make a prediction on the stock market ever. I’m very long-term. Long-term, the stock market is going to be higher, and I’ve written that many times. In terms of what it’s going to do next year, or tomorrow, I have no idea. The stocks we were buying and selling the day before the election were the same stocks we were buying and selling the day after [the] election.

Do you see anything in Trump’s policies that are good or bad for the market?

I’m not looking at it. I don’t know what the market’s going to do at all. Never have, never will.

A few years back you wrote in Fortune about a plan to eliminate our trade deficit. Are you going to call Trump and offer that up as a policy?

I’ve never called any president in my life. I never have and I never will. It’s presumptuous. I guess if I knew a nuclear bomb was someplace I’d get on the phone pretty fast.

Alright, but do you still think your plan, essentially granting tradable import credits to anyone who exports, is a smart way to go about it?

I think that the president needs to understand that, one: The more trade, the better for us and the world over time.

Secondly, the benefits of free trade are diffused over 320 million people. You buy your shoes a little cheaper; you buy your underwear a little cheaper, because of free trade. But the penalties to the person involved, the steel worker in Ohio or the textile worker in Massachusetts are very, very extreme. And some guy that’s spent 35 years of his life making steel so I can buy my underwear a little cheaper understandably feels the system is not working right if he’s not in some way taken care of.

And so I think that we need to have free trade and we have to have policies that moderate and hopefully even cure the damage that are done to the lives of people who are perfectly decent citizens, who’ve spent their life in one trade and at 55, they’re not going to be able to retrain for something else very well.

So you’ve got to have a two-pronged policy. And at that point, I think you’ll have more support for trade.

A lot of people have said we’ve learned there are deeper divides in America. Is there anything that you would say you learned from the results of the election?

If you go back to the first election I voted in, which was Eisenhower versus Stevenson in 1952. Nobody walked into the polling booth and pulled the lever for Eisenhower because they hated Stevenson. And they didn’t pull the lever for Stevenson because they hated Eisenhower. They were for somebody. This election I think, no way to prove it exactly, but a very significant percentage of people went in and voted against the other person.

But you were pretty enthusiastic for your candidate.

Oh yeah, definitely. I think I had 15 fundraising events for Hillary.

Have you talked to Hillary since the election?