Warren Buffett's faith in America

In his annual letter to investors, Warren Buffett sees good times ahead for the American economy.

US investor Warren Buffett still has faith in America. "From a standing start 240 years ago, Americans have combined human ingenuity with a market system to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers... amass[ing] wealth totalling $90trn."

His annual letter to shareholders in his investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway goes on to argue that, thanks to "innovation, productivity gains, entrepreneurial spirit and an abundance of capital", he expects the economy to "deliver increasing wealth to our progeny far into the future". While it is possible that this wealth creation could be "interrupted for short periods", it "will not be stopped".

Admittedly, "American owners of homes, cars and other assets have often borrowed heavily to finance their purchases". However, "if an owner defaults... his or her asset does not disappear or lose its usefulness". Instead, "ownership customarily passes to an American lending institution that then disposes of it to an American buyer". As a result, "American business and consequently a basket of stocks is virtually certain to be worth far more in the years ahead".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Of course, "many companies will fall behind and some will fail". Similarly, "the years ahead will occasionally deliver major market declines that will affect virtually all stocks". However, "widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases". Overall, "investors who avoid high and unnecessary costs and simply sit for an extended period with a collection of large, conservatively financed American businesses will almost certainly do well".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri