Warren Buffett treat cubes of gold like objects

  • 09 Feb 2012 at 6:31 PM

Don’t Think He Hasn’t Tried

In addition to being known as one of the most loved and revered businessmen- some would say- ever, a savvy investor and a lover of Cherry Coke, Buffett is known for one thing above all else– going out of his way to awkwardly marry aberrant sex fetish with folksy business wisdom. Some of his greatest hits include telling Bloomberg, on the matter of why people should want to sell their companies to BRK, “You can sell it to Berkshire, and we’ll put it in the Metropolitan Museum; it’ll have a wing all by itself; it’ll be there forever. Or you can sell it to some porn shop operator, and he’ll take the painting and he’ll make the boobs a little bigger and he’ll stick it up in the window, and some other guy will come along in a raincoat, and he’ll buy it.” Telling investors on his decision to buy NetJets, “Once you’ve flown NetJets, returning to commercial flight is like going back to holding hands.” Telling investors, of the housing crisis, “As house prices fall, a huge amount of financial folly is being exposed. You only learn who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Telling CBS, on the topic of bridge: “You know, if I’m playing bridge and a naked woman walks by, I don’t even see her. Don’t test me on that!” Telling Forbes, in 1974, on stocks being undervalued: “[I feel] like an oversexed guy in a whorehouse.” [Forbes changed "whorehouse" to "harem."] Today he added another track to the album in an excerpt of his annual investor letter to be released this spring.

As part of his argument for why one shouldn’t own gold, he noted, “Beyond the staggering valuation given the existing stock of gold, current prices make today’s annual production of gold command about $160 billion. Buyers — whether jewelry and industrial users, frightened individuals, or speculators — must continually absorb this additional supply to merely maintain an equilibrium at present prices. A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops — and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the currency may be. Exxon Mobil will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The 170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.

Only, as any Warren Buffett scholar worth his or her salt will tell you, that clearly wasn’t the line of his choosing but rather what Fortune, where it appeared, came up with after rejecting his previous drafts, reminding Buffett that theirs is family publication. We’ve obtained the originals and, in the interest of full disclosure and because its how Warren would have wanted it, will share them now. Read more »