Warren Buffett wants the world to know that it's time to get greedy right now, as fear sends stock prices plunging across the globe.
Besides his Berkshire Hathaway shares, Buffett reveals that he used to own nothing but U.S. bonds. Now, he writes, "If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent" in American stocks. (Remember, he's talking about his own holdings, not the billions of dollars of stock owned by Berkshire Hathaway itself.)
"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors."
While he acknowledges that the financial world is a "mess" and the economy will only get worse in the near term, he argues that over the long term, "the stock market news will be good," just as it has been throughout the 20th century. All the bad news right now creates opportunities for investors willing to look five, ten, or twenty years into the future.
Buffett admits that he doesn't have the "faintest idea" whether the stock market will be higher or lower in a month or a year, he argues that it's likely the market will move higher well before we see improvements in investor sentiment or the economy. "So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over."
As for the people who now feel "comfortable" holding cash and waiting for good news: "They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value."
In the piece, Buffett doesn't name any specific stock or stocks that he's been buying.
Earlier this month, however, Buffett did reveal in a live interview on CNBCthat he couldn't resist buying some shares of Wells Fargo for his personal account when they dipped into the low 20s during the summer. In that conversation, however, he made it sound like buying Wells was more of an exception to the rule than the start of a stock-buying trend.
Current Wells Fargo price:
It's no secret that Buffett remains optimistic about America's long-term financial future and thinks "people who own a piece of it will do well." (See the recent WBW post Warren Buffett's Reassuring Words On the Future.)
It is, however, unusual for Buffett to make such an emphatic public declaration that the time to buy is now. He never likes to "opine" on the stock market.
These must indeed be extraordinary times for him to say to the world that he's putting his own money where his mouth is right now, by purchasing his own pieces of America's future prosperity.
Current Berkshire stock prices:
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