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Buffett Says ‘Muddled Messages’ Fuel Uncertainty

Posted on Mar 10, 2009
Flickr / Art Comments

The world’s richest man—until recently, anyway—said the economy “has fallen off a cliff” and he blamed “muddled messages” for the public’s uncertainty. Warren Buffett, in remarks broadcast Monday on CNBC, criticized Republicans and the political process, but his barb has at least grazed the man he helped elect president.

NBC reported that Republicans were passing around Buffett’s comments, while White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the target was “Washington writ large.”

The billionaire’s investment firm recently posted its worst loss ever.

Boston Globe:

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on CNBC that the economy “has fallen off a cliff” and that Obama’s team is sending some mixed signals about its approach, hurting confidence.

“The message has to be very, very clear as to what government will be doing,” said Buffett, an informal adviser to the White House. “And I think we’ve had—and it’s the nature of the political process somewhat—but we’ve had muddled messages and the American public does not know. They feel they don’t know what’s going on, and their reaction then is to absolutely pull back.”

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By Homer Hewitt, March 11, 2009 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

related fake news


Some of the News
That may be True


Wednesday March 11 - Sub-Rosa’s senior investigating reporter, Ronald Davit, has obtained a discarded duplicate copy of the tape recording of part of President Obama’s day in the oval office.
It appears that there are some omitted or deleted sections but we have pieced together these excerpts:

Hello, Warren, this is the President. How are things in Omaha?

Good. I want to thank you again for your help and advice during the campaign and the advice you have continued to offer. But I have to take issue with your view that I am taking on too many issues at one time and that I have to focus on the economy. Let me assure you .... oh, excuse me for a minute.

I’m back. That was Governor Sebelius and her chief of staff. They wanted clarification of one point in my health plan.

Tim Geitner and I are meeting later this afternoon to .... please hold, call coming in.

That was the Vice President, calling from Brussels. Joe needed approval of some draft language in NATO’s letter to Putin. Tim and I are going to be discussing .....

(long silence)

Secretary Gates and Holbrook arrived early for their appointment. We had to make final decisions on some points in the new strategic plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tim and I feel that some clarification .... just a minute….

Thanks for holding. That was Emanuel. He needed to know which members of Congress will require strong persuasion to support a lower tax benefit for some itemized deductions in order to help fund our health plan. We have hopes .....sorry ...

That was just a draft of my speech tomorrow on our education overhaul.

As I said , I am focusing like a laser on the banking and jobs crisis. In fact .... Oh, Michelle. Yes, I will be available soon to help the kids with their homework. ....

And the Romanian delegation is here now?

Well, Warren, I know that you’re very busy running Berkshire Hathaway so I won’t keep you any longer. Thanks again for your help.


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By wildflower, March 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Buffett is right in that the Republicans ““have an obligation to regard this as an economic war,” but it’s not too surprising that they’ve opted to ignore this crisis and undermine Obama’s efforts to sort it all out.  After all, many of these same Republicans either directly or indirectly helped to create this crisis in the first place so it’s highly unlikely they will change directions now.

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By artie, March 10, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clever fellow Buffet. He admits minor mistakes, but ignores the huge drop in BH, and says nothing about its’ questionable insurance practices.

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By Shift, March 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

For clarity let’s just bankrupt companies that are insolvent.  It’s clear by now that we must take our medicine despite the protestations of shell shocked capitalists.  Belly up boys!  Grow that overnight spine!  Open wide !  Gulp!

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By Spiritgirl, March 10, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Buffet is correct, on the one side we have the Democrats and though they too have their faults (Republican enablers of bad policies, pushing through faaarrr too much unnecessary defense pork, they too took the money, etc.) they are working to help correct the course that we have veered onto.  The Republicans on the other hand are continuing to sing the same ole song (more tax cuts, more tax cuts, more tax cuts, too much government, etc.)!  What they expect is that the public has forgotten the last 30 years - which has led to the current debacle!

What the Republicans are counting on is public outrage and anger can be turned on the President if they continue with their obstructionist ways, and the talking heads continue to make it appear that of course Republicans are doing all they can!  What they don’t count on is that this time enough of “we the people” are paying attention - and we see what they are doing!  Are we worried about our pensions, homes, and families, you bet!  We’re also watching to see exactly what is going on - both Republicans and Democrats are paying attention!  Think not, Mr. President won his office because enough people voted to ensure that 354 vs. 162 delegates would vote for Mr. Obama - do they really want to keep playing the blame game?!?!?!

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By tropicgirl, March 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Buffet doesn’t realize that its also the EARMARKS that are making people nervous. Its amazing to me to watch the Dems and some repubs defend earmarks just watching C Span right now. One democratic idiot from Ohio even tried to say they are their “responsibility”. The pork barrel is deep.

Here are just some basic reasons why EARMARKS ARE TOTALLY CROOKED AND WRONG:

These large projects are SUPPOSED TO BE funded via local and state governments. They are approved by and overseen by LOCAL elected officials. Their funding is examined. And, if taxes need to be raised, or money borrowed, then the economics are well examined ahead of time.

1.  Earmarks bypass all the ENVIRONMENTAL AND OTHER REGULATORY PROCESSES. Some of these, if not all, if done locally, would follow a careful environmental and community test to see if it does anything that would negatively impact the community, whether taking too much water, or imminent domain or other unintended results. Earmarks answer to nobody.

2.  Earmarks are NO BID CONTRACTS. These are given away to friends and donors with no one actually considering if it could be done cheaper. Many, many of these projects flounder because of money mismanagement and lack of expertise in ADMINISTERING THE PROJECT.

3.  Earmarks are UNFAIR. These projects are hand-chosen and put in front of many other more worthwhile projects. There is no excuse for picking and choosing projects when so many need to be done legitimately.

4.  Earmarks breed corruption. In view of what has already been mentioned, only the most challenged cannot see that this process is fundamentally corrupt. There are legitimate ways to fund projects and EARMARKS ARE THE WRONG WAY.

5.  Earmarks are sloppily funded. Often the projects, understandably, because of lack of oversight, often go without the total funding needed to complete them, creating a mess for the state and local government to clean up.

Only a fool or a crook defends earmarks. I’m sure this is going to stain Obama for the rest of his tenure.

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By Gawd, March 10, 2009 at 11:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Buffett reiterated his overriding message that the government needs to unite behind the president on economic issues as though he were the commander in chief during an “economic” war, I’m pretty sure he was talking about the screeching magpies in the Republican minority in Congress and NOT the Democratic majority.

The Democrats in Congress are already united behind the president on economic issues as though he were presiding over an “economic” war.

His great misunderstanding about these times is that today’s Republican Party is not the same patriotic collegue it was after FDR took office. Unlike the post-Pearl Harbor Navy example he kept referring to, today’s Republican Party, if given the forgiveness, breathing room and deference he suggests Obama and the Dems ought to give them, will take that first opportunity to turn its cannons toward the commander in chief and the Dems in Congress and BLOW THEIR ASSES up in a nanosecond.

In an “economic” war, today’s Republican Party IS the enemy.

Poor old Warren doesn’t realize THIS Republican Party doesn’t WANT Obama or the country to repair itself in any way, shape or form between now and November 2010.

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By SteveK9, March 10, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Eric: Comment that they are not ‘too big to fail’ and giving Lehmann as the example is poor logic.  It was the fall of Lehmann that really set off the financial crisis (maybe it would have happened in any case).  I get the feeling that Paulson thought ‘let one go to show we mean business’, but the result was so bad that Geithner, et. al.  are now truly scared to let AIG fail, for example.  Yes, we are all still here, but I’d say we are a bit worse off.  If we let the entire financial system collapse we will still be here but we will be boiling our dinner in a tin can outside our tent.

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By GW=MCHammered, March 10, 2009 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just yesterday, Mister Buffet claimed that the ‘crisis’ is “an economic Pearl Harbor.” But we know that years of excessive deregulation and inordinate credit masked supressed wages allowing disproportionate price increases leading to this inevitable collapse. Whether you call them the elite, globalists, or new world order dictators, the upper half-percent seem to want everyone renting everything in their lives from them ... but only from birth to death. Enjoy!

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By Eric L. Prentis, March 10, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

The markets have no faith in Geithner/Summers/Bernanke, they all have to go. The financial establishment is scaring us with threats that Citigroup and AIG are too big to fail, bull, Lehman Brothers went down and we are still here. No more playing the US taxpayer as a sap, hit the bondholders, stockholders, management, and directors of these failed companies for a change. The current Obama strategy is condemning the US to a Japanese style lost economic decade, time to wake up America.

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By photoshock, March 10, 2009 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

Mr. Buffet is entirely correct when he says that, “the messages concerning the economy are muddled and that the confidence of the normal person, is low and getting lower with regards to the course of our economic path out of this depression.”
The Grand Orgy Party, has become the party of the NO, they cannot see the forest for the trees and they have only self-interest at heart. They are losing the battle and the war by sustaining the policies that have brought us to the brink of economic and governmental failure. No government can sustain itself when, the inflation rate is beyond imagination, such as in Zimbabwe, where they are now printing $100 Billion Pound notes.
Our economy, the economy of the US, is now tanking and all the Republicans can do is be naysayers and purveyors of doom and gloom when it comes to the policies of President Obama.
When pundits like Rush Limbaugh, on the radio, for all the world to hear, say, ” I want President Obams’s policies to fail,”  then we are truly and completely sunk.  Right now, more than ever, it is time for the political parties to stop listening to the pundits and talking heads and do what is right, work for the good of the country and not the “political process.”
If they continue in this fashion, withholding their votes because it is not them who are in control, then
the Republicans face becoming a thing of the past. But all political parties need to become the “dinosaurs” that they are, extinct and of the past.
We cannot long stand the measures that are being put forth as “recovery and help,”  these measures will only show the idiocy and inanity of the political process and then maybe the people will be the change that they so desperately need.
We need to transcend the partisan process and become one people again, not split into this or that political ideal, but all working for the good of each
other and seeking the best for one another. If we do
this then maybe we have a chance of salvaging the world and our species. If not, if all we do is bicker
and become even more partisan and “balkanized” then we as a species are doomed to failure and we are going to see the end of the human race as we know it.
Please people rise up and take a stand against this process of partisanship and bickering, we need each others thoughts and ideas to make this world a better
place!  Peace Out!

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By Howard Mandel, March 10, 2009 at 7:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nobody knows the stock market like Warren Buffet. But the average American doesn’t make his living on Wall Street. The volatility in the market makes everybody nervous, but most people are worried about the real economy. For thirty years the US has delegated the authority for our real economy to Wall Street. And what have they wrought?

Now Obama is taking it back and it’s making bankers and investors nervous. But if we are going to have a future in America we’re going to have to invest in it or the long term prospect for growth is nil. We are going through a an overdue changing of the guard. And, there will be blood.

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By Allan Gurfinkle, March 10, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For what it’s worth .... Buffet made a number of great deals 30 years ago, but, ..... for the last 20 years Berkshire Hathaway has underperformed the Dow Jones average.  And, it tanked with the market in the last months.  So, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to regard Buffet as a financial wizard.

To see a chart of Berkshire Hathaway versus the Dow you can watch ... (synopsis - they track pretty closely)

That said, it would be interesting to see what Buffet thinks should be done .....  but beyond saying he’s optimistic and we should ‘work together’ he doesn’t tell us.

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