Warren Buffett's latest op-ed piece in the New York Times is certainly attracting a lot of attention on Wednesday. The Oracle's piece is written in the form of a thank-you note to Uncle Sam.
As in: "Just over two years ago, in September 2008, our country faced an economic meltdown....," he writes. "Only one counterforce was available, and that was you, Uncle Sam. Yes, you are often clumsy, even inept. But when businesses and people worldwide race to get liquid, you are the only party with the resources to take the other side of the transaction. And when our citizens are losing trust by the hour in institutions they once revered, only you can restore calm."
And: "Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic - and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective."
It's typical Buffett: Calm, assertive and folksy. While some observers will no doubt criticize the head of Berkshire Hathaway for talking his book - essentially thanking the U.S. government for its bailout efforts, which helped stabilize Berkshire's massive investment portfolio - this misses the point.
Mr. Buffett wasn't helped out by the U.S. government's efforts any more than regular investors, who had seen their retirement portfolios decimated by events that led up to the extraordinary intervention implemented two years ago.
However, Mr. Buffett's op-ed piece is interesting for its timing. The piece actually starts with this line: "My mother told me to send thank-you notes promptly. I've been remiss." He's kidding, of course, but the timing of the article coincides nicely with political developments in the United States, where the Obama administration is struggling with its economic policies and the Federal Reserve's Ben Bernanke is facing immense criticism for his decision to conduct another round of bond-buying using printed money.
If there is a subtext to Mr. Buffett's note, it is this: The recent moves by U.S. authorities have for the most part been the right moves. So rather than fret over the consequences of government intervention, be bullish.