“You write, in discussing the Beardstown Ladies, that it’s almost impossible to beat the market consistently. But what about Buffett? Surely it isn’t all just commission savings. He does seem to make good investments at the right prices.” -D.G.G.
Indeed he does. Warren Buffett is smarter than almost anybody . . . completely single-minded in his efforts . . . boosted by the financial leverage in his great and savvy insurance businesses (he gets to invest the premiums until you crash your car or the earthquake hits) . . . and the beneficiary, by now, of a couple of self-fulfilling special advantages. (People all take his calls; potential acquirees enjoy a certain cachet and might accept a lower price in Berkshire stock than in the stock of just any old company; once Buffett invests/anoints, the world follows.)
So Warren is clearly real, but an exception.
Still, many of today’s young investors can learn a lot from his example. Buffett never traded in-and-out, never made a nickel that I know of buying puts and calls . . . it’s been good, thoughtful, patient investing, with a great premium on value and the quality of management. My friend Roger Lowenstein wrote a wonderful Buffett biography not long ago, and there are other good books on him as well.