An Old-School Investor

Dec 5 2012 @ 9:22am

James Surowiecki profiles Warren Buffett:

Buffett’s disdain for the trappings of wealth can be exaggerated—“When I get rid of the plane, you’ll know I’m broke,” he told me—but it’s obviously a big part of his appeal to ordinary Americans. How can you not like a billionaire who still lives in a house that he bought in 1958? But Buffett’s popularity doesn’t stem from his life style alone. More important, his success evokes an economy very different from today’s risky, unstable one. These days, workers are told that they need to adapt to a world of perpetual change, constantly reinventing themselves. The investing world is dominated by a manic-depressive style, in which the average mutual fund turns over nearly its entire portfolio every year. Yet Buffett has prospered by ignoring all this. As an investor, he’s known for his patience—he says that he likes holding stocks “forever”—and he prefers a few big bets to an endless number of small ones. “If you go from flower to flower, you have to find a lot of flowers to make a lot of money,” he told me. “There aren’t that many great ideas out there.”