Friday, May 18, 2012

Warren Buffett's Father Tried to Teach Warren About Austrian Business Cycle Theory

I wonder what went wrong.

Lew Rockwell has posted a fascinating letter (below) from Howard Buffett, Warren's father, to Murray Rothbard. The letter comes from the Rothbard Archives at the Mises Institute.

Note the second to last paragraph where Howard Buffet writes:
Somewhere I had read that you wrote a book on the "Panic of 1819". If this is correct, I would like to know where I can buy a copy of it. I have a son who is a particularly avid reader of books about panics and similar phenomenon. I would like to present him with the book referred to.


  1. Perhaps Warren was rebelling. If that was the case, then he's still doing it, against economic law.

    I love how Howard wanted to help circulate Rothbard's work.

    Little did they know that only several decades later, Rothbard's books would be zipping across the planet all the time:

  2. Darn, what could have been.

  3. The fact that Howard Buffet noted Warren was an "avid reader" of such books as opposed to merely being "interested in them" leads me to believe that Warren was well versed in libertarian writings and probably Austrian economics.

    The fact that he spent the early part of his life as a shrewed, free market operator, before turning into a greasy crony and abandoning the principles his father steered him towards (perhaps merely through neccessity as he became the US' richest and the direct focus of D.C.'s regulation) helps explain why he is on a wealth hating, redistributionist bent of late.

    No-one who has earned an honest dollar would wish to have it redistributed through government nor to give it all away to bottomless pits of charity and leave nothing for their children, Warren on the otherhand must have some serious cognitive dissonance in his mind, after being expose to Austrian logic it sticks with you forever, yet in practice he has totally abandoned these principles which must be a couple very conflicting thoughts, perhaps his wealth hating mentality and idiotic charitable ventures are a defence mechanism to deal with his cognitive dissonance and ease his elderly mind.

    I think it goes a long way to explaining why so many other government made billionaires have signed up to his giving pledge too.

  4. Pretty amazing letter and find. Thanks for posting

  5. I have read that Warren ultimately rejected the Republican Party due to his civil rights beliefs, but if so he revealed himself to be a big government type in all areas. I believe Warren correctly deduced the only way to be really rich was to 1) leverage up and 2) deploy funds mostly in panics where value can be obtained. Now he seems content to sit on huge positions in Coca-Cola, again perhaps because he correctly deduces this is not a free market and that large corporations have advantages that are, while not obtained from, certainly secured by, government protection from competition. Warren is rational where it suits him, and ultimately he wants to have access to Wall Street more than he wants to promote rational economic policy. And he believes America will be the only superpower forever. Who knows, he may be right, but it will only be by force.