Warren Buffett on Tax Reforms, Markets & Investments

Well, valuations make sense with interest rates where they are. I mean, in the end you measure laying out money for an asset in relation to what you are going to get back, and the number one yard stick is U.S. governments. When you get 2.30 on the ten-year, I think stocks will do considerably better than that. If I have a choice of the two, I’m going to take stocks at that point. On the other hand, if interest rates were on the ten-year were five or six, you know, a whole different valuation standard for stocks. And we’ve talked about that for some time now.

tax reforms

Interest rates are gravity. If we knew interest rates were going to be zero from now until judgment day, you could pay a lot of money for any other asset. You would not want to put your money out at zero. I would have thought back in 19 — I mean, 2009 that rates would not be this low eight years later. It’s been a powerful factor, and the longer it persists, the more people start thinking in terms of something close to the rates they’ve seen for a long time. The one thing I’m sure of is that over time stocks from this level will beat bonds from this level. If I can be short the 30-year bond at 3 percent or something and long the S&P 500 and just have it put away for 30 years, stocks are going to far outperform bonds. The question is which variable is going to change. Everybody expects interest rates to change. But they’ve been expecting that for quite a while.

I don’t try to guess the stock market: I find businesses I like. But if I were to guess: if interest rates — if the ten-year moved up to 5 percent, stocks would be somewhat cheaper.

It’s been so wide I’ve written about it in annual reports. Stocks have been so much more attractive than bonds for a long time now and that’s partly intentional on the part of the fed. I mean, they want assets to increase in value and the way to do it was to reduce that gravity force of higher interest rates.

I think they expect it to increase, but the question is how much. If three years from now interest rates are 100 basis points higher than this, stocks will still be cheap at these prices. If it’s 300 or 400 basis points, they won’t look cheap. Janet Yellen doesn’t know what she would do three years from now. She’s got more of a job than –that’s a simple factor of the stock market. It’s interesting because the fed has said that they would like to see 2% inflation. That’s fairly recent. Paul Volcker would not have slept if he’d ever heard that in the 80s.

If the U.S. government is borrowing at ten years from you at 2.3%, and their own instrument, the fed, is saying ‘we would really like money to become more 2% a year or less,’ they’re not promising you very much in terms of real terms for saving.

Read the full interview here


How To Anticipate And Avoid Pitfalls – Howard Marks

With the stock market reaching all time highs, maybe it’s a good time to revisit Howard Marks’ memo of 2005 in which he discusses market trends being taken to excess – and the painful consequences that become clear in hindsight.

Here’s an except from that memo:

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.” – – Winston Churchill

I often cite John Kenneth Galbraith’s observation that one of the outstanding hallmarks of the financial world is “the extreme brevity of the financial memory.” Investors lose money over and over because they simply forget that cycles are inevitable and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Now I’ve found a great quotation from Churchill, also reminding us that foresight comes largely from awareness of history.

howard marks

Along similar lines, I’m struck by the extent to which a related factor, inadequate skepticism, also contributes to investment losses. Getting the most out of a book, play or movie usually requires “willing suspension of disbelief.” We’re glad to overlook the occasional plot glitch, historical inaccuracy or physical impossibility because it increases our enjoyment. When we watch Peter Pan, we don’t want to hear the person sitting next to us say, “I can see the wires” (even though we know they’re there). While we know boys can’t fly, we don’t care; we’re just there for fun.

But our purpose in investing is serious, not fun, and we must constantly be on the lookout for things that can’t work in real life. In short, the process of investing requires a strong dose of disbelief. Time and time again, the post mortems of financial debacles include two classic phrases: “It was too good to be true” and “What were they thinking?” I’m writing to explore why these observations are so often invoked in the past tense.

The combination of greed and optimism repeatedly leads people to pursue strategies they hope will produce high returns without high risk; pay elevated prices for securities that are in vogue; and hold things after they have become highly priced in the hope there’s still some appreciation left. Afterwards, hindsight shows everyone what went wrong: that expectations were unrealistic and risks were ignored.

Read the full article here


The markets are falling, what are you doing?

The stock markets have been on a free fall for some time now ever since the Greek debt crisis blew up.  The Euro has been going down vis-a-vis the US dollar.  The dollar has been gaining in strength even against gold. Does that mean all is hunky dory and that all the problems are over with the US dollar and the American economy?  No.  Whenever there is a crisis in the world economy, the money takes a flight to the US dollar.  And that’s what we are seeing now.  It doesnt mean that all the weaknesses inherent to the dollar have vanished

The situation now is mirroring the famous words said by some great soul “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is the king“.

So, what does this crisis mean to people who want to invest for the long term?  Its the ripe time to buy.  Dont pump in all your money at once.  Buy good companies in small quantities.  The market might go down further from here. Buy some now and some more when the markets go down further.  Never try to time to market.  The markets might not go down further from here, and if you buy now, you would have still got some great stocks for cheap.

Am a big follower of Warren Buffett when he says “Buy when there is blood on the streets“.  It might not be complete mayhem now, but there are some great companies available for cheap.

I have bought a few more shares of the following companies

Alok Industries

Bharti Airtel

MIC Electronics

Punj Lloyd

I really hope that the markets fall further so that i can pick up some more good stocks at some great prices.

Important Note: Please dont follow my buy/sell advise blindly.  Do your own research or follow the advise of a certified financial planner before investing.  Iam not responsible for any profits or losses you make by following my investment strategy.

Above price charts courtesy:  Yahoo Finance