Warren Buffett may be busy buying U.S. stocks at "bargain" prices, but it appears not many investors enthusiastically followed his lead today.
Buffett's New York Times piece this morning had the catchy headline Buy American. I Am. It got plenty of attention on CNBC and other media outlets today.
The major U.S. stock indexes, however, failed to hold an early rally and closed with mild losses.
Reuters writes about a "lukewarm" reception to Buffett's fearless proclamation that all the fear in the marketplace makes this a great time to get "greedy" and buy beaten-down stocks for long-term gains.
Wall Street historian Charles Geisst is quoted as saying, "I understand the sentiment, but this situation is unlike anything we've seen since 1932. In downturns such as 1987 and early this decade, we never had a real clear view of what caused markets to go down. In this case, we have much too clear a view. This is the first time we've seen systemic problems affect the markets since the Great Depression."
Reaction on CNBC was mixed. Several guests gave Buffett's "buy" call a strong endorsement.
Others agree that stocks will indeed be higher years from now, but fretted about potential near-term losses. We also heard how many money managers don't have the luxury to wait for years to turn a profit. Their clients and employers demand results now, not later.
Here's a collection of video clips from CNBC's programming today:
A MORE ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE
NOT A BOTTOM, BUT STOCKS LOOK CHEAP
In the second hour of Power Lunch, Fortune'sLeigh Gallagher emphasized that Buffett isn't calling a bottom, but she agrees that stocks are cheap now and investors should be cautious about pulling their money out of stocks.
Dennis Kneale, by the way, does think Buffett meant to call a bottom by going so public in the Times.
FAST MONEY'S TAKE
The Fast Money traders and Veracruz LLC Founder Steven Cortes put in their two cents. Cortes says he "couldn't agree more" with Buffett that chaos brings both pain and a "historic" opportunity. He and the Traders list some specific names they like.
Today's Fast Money Reader Poll asks if Buffett's decision to buy stock in American companies makes you more interested in them. As of mid-evening and 1716 responses, 68 percent said, "Yes, it's like giving them a seal of approval." Thirty-two percent went with, "No, Buffett only ever does what's best for Buffett."
Current Berkshire stock prices:
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