Buffett Watch

Fortune's New Cover Boy: "What Warren Thinks"

Warren Buffett and a root-beer float grace the cover of the latest edition of Fortune Magazine with the headline "What Warren Thinks ..."

Fortune's Nicholas Varchaver sat in recently as Buffett hosted 150 business students from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School for a Q&A session, chicken parmigiana at Piccolo Pete's, his favorite restaurant, and individual pictures with the Oracle.  (He does this sort of thing about once a month.)  Varchaver also got his own one-on-one interview with Buffett.

Fortune's web site features excerpts of the day's sessions.

Among the highlights from Buffett's comments:

  • "It's very, very hard to regulate when you get into very complex instruments where you've got hundreds of counterparties. The counterparty behavior and risk was a big part of why the Treasury and the Fed felt that they had to move in over a weekend at Bear Stearns. And I think they were right to do it, incidentally."
  • "It seems everybody says it'll (the economic slowdown) be short and shallow, but it looks like it's just the opposite. You know, deleveraging by its nature takes a lot of time, a lot of pain. And the consequences kind of roll through in different ways."
  • "The markets have not gotten more rational over the years,  They've become more followed.  But when people panic, when fear takes over, or when greed takes over, people react just as irrationally as they have in the past."
  • Along with being a "political bigamist" by supporting both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for President, "I feel that if a Republican wins, John McCain would be the one I would prefer.  I think we've got three unusually good candidates this time."
  • "If you gave me the choice of being CEO of General Electric or IBM or General Motors, you name it, or delivering papers, I would deliver papers. I would. I enjoyed doing that. I can think about what I want to think. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do."

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