Timeless and Time-Tested Warren Buffett Watch Predictions
As a new year approaches, it is customary for journalists to make predictions about the future. This time around, CNBC.com has a collection of prognostications from CNBC bloggers on a special page: Predictions '09.
Last year around this time, Warren Buffett Watch offered its Eight Predictions for '08 .. and Beyond.
In keeping with Buffett's long-term way of looking at things, the eight predictions were intentionally on the 'timeless' side of the predicting spectrum.
Here they are again, with a little bit of editing. This could be the start of a new holiday tradition!
Warren Buffett became one of the wealthiest people in the world by making predictions and putting money behind those predictions. Every time he buys a stock or a business or some other investment, he's forecasting the future.
Judging by the incredible returns of his holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett and his colleagues are very good at making those predictions.
Of course, it helps when you can give your predictions plenty of time to come true. That's one reason Buffett's favorite holding period for investments in "outstanding businesses with outstanding managements" is "forever." After all, "We don't get paid for activity, just for being right. As to how long we'll wait, we'll wait indefinitely."
With that in mind, here are Warren Buffett Watch's 'timeless' predictions.
1. Recessions can't be avoided forever. As 2007 was coming to a close, Buffett told our Becky Quick that if unemployment picks up significantly, the "dominoes" will fall and the U.S. economy will fall into recession in 2008. He was right, but not alarmed. "It is the nature of capitalism to periodically have recessions. People overshoot." (He told Becky she's young enough to expect to see 6 or 7 or them.)
2. We'll survive current and future recessions just as we've survived past problems. As Buffett told us in August, 2007, (and repeated throughout 2008): "We've got a wonderful economy... There's never been anything like that in the history of the world. We live seven times better than the people did a century ago on average... We've had problems all along. If you look at the last century, we had that Great Depression and World War Two, we had the Cold War, we had the atomic bomb, but the country does well."
3. Recessions will create opportunities. "I made by far the best buys I've ever made in my lifetime in 1974. And that was a time of great pessimism and the oil shock and stagflation and all those sort of things. But stocks were cheap." Fast-forward to October, 2008, and Buffett's Why I'm Buying U.S. Stocks Now.
4. All stocks won't be cheap. Like Ted Williams waiting for the right pitch,a successful investor waits for the right stock at the right price, and it doesn't happen every day. "What’s nice about investing is you don’t have to swing at pitches. You can watch pitches come in one inch above or one inch below your navel, and you don’t have to swing. No umpire is going to call you out." You get in trouble, Buffett says, when you listen to the crowd chanting "Swing, batter, swing!"