After an exceedingly boring 2019, 2020 has given Warren Buffett all of the excitement he could possibly hope for and thensome: “It’ll be 2.8 million deaths this year and at age 89, I’m a little more likely to be in that group,” he noted morosely, perhaps mourning the cancellation of this year’s Buffettstock. But other than that unfortunate responsibility and his newfound chunk of Occidental Petroleum shares, Buffett hasn’t been doing much in these pandemic-plagued months other than losing a great deal of money. He certainly hasn’t reprised his role as financial markets fairy godmother so deftly played during the global financial crisis a dozen years ago. Maybe it’s because he’s the rare person who doesn’t think it’s all that big a deal (“I’ve always felt a pandemic would happen sometime,” he shrugged last month. “It wasn’t October 1987, but it was an imitation, anyway…. If you stick around long enough you’ll see everything in markets.”). Maybe it’s because he’s holed up in the famously modest house scared to death that he’ll live long enough to see the collapse of Western society.
Or maybe, in the unsolicited and probably baseless opinion of admirer Bill Ackman, who’s not at all afraid to make his opinions on matter COVID-19 known, it’s because the old Oracle is as wily as ever and is planning one hell of a surprise for Virtual Buffettstock Brought to you by Yahoo! Finance.
As for what he thought Buffett was doing, Ackman said he suspected his mentor was quietly putting his $125 billion in cash to work buying stocks. He was keeping a low profile to make sure the stocks stayed cheap while he is buying. “After he invests that $100 billion and change,” Ackman says, “he’ll let everybody know.”