Friday, July 3, 2009

A Buffett Biographer as Rock Star

Alice Schroeder recently toured China to promote her Warren Buffett biography, Snowball. It wasn't like a U.S book tour, she writes:

The rock-star treatment I received on my recent book tour in China makes sense only if viewed through the lens the Chinese apply to American culture: Its importance is relative to whether it can make you rich.

Which is why Warren Buffett is no mere Oracle in China; he is the “GOD OF STOCKS” (usually translated this way, in uppercase). Buffett is probably the most popular American in China other than President Barack Obama.

The Chinese don’t give a hoot about Obama’s politics; his appeal is his power, through which he, like Buffett, can make you rich. Faith in Obama’s ability to create wealth on a personal level is so strong that one Chinese author has even capitalized on it in a book: “Get Rich With Barack Obama’s Change We Can Believe In Principle.”

It is just as strange that Buffett, the man of patient capital accumulation, has been so fetishized in China, the land of instant everything. The tour gave me a window into the attitude of Chinese investors. It resembled no book tour imaginable in the U.S., consisting of marathon two-plus-hour press conferences and six-hour “forums” (a speech of at least 60 minutes, followed by a panel, then audience questions and answers followed by a book signing and a banquet) in Beijing, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.

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