Straight Talk from Buffett

One of the great things about listening to Warren Buffett speak, and I suspect one reason why thousands gather each year in Omaha for his company’s annual meeting, is that despite the fact that he is a brilliant man he speaks in plain, logical language that is easy to follow and usually hard to argue with. If you want the truth, without the media spin, and in as few simple words as possible, just ask Buffett.

Here are excerpts from a Buffett blurb on latimes.com from Thursday discussing current financial market conditions:

“It’s sort of a little poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end,” he said.

“I wouldn’t quite call it a credit crunch,” he said. “Money is available, and it’s really quite cheap because of the lowering of rates that has taken place.”

He added: “What has happened is a repricing of risk and an unavailability of what I might call ‘dumb money,’ of which there was plenty around a year ago.”

He is so right on this. People in the media keep complaining that “banks aren’t lending money anymore” and the Fed has to help boost liquidity. Banks are still lending money, they are just doing so only to people who have good credit (and thus actually deserve to be given loans).

It’s funny that people complained that the banks were giving loans to anyone and everyone, and now they are upset because many people can’t get loans anymore. You can’t have it both ways.

The fact that “dumb money” is no longer available is a good thing. Perhaps retail sales drop a few percentage points and loan losses increase a few because of it, but overall our financial system will be less leveraged and healthier as a result.

If you can’t put any money down or verify your income, you can’t afford to buy a home. I’m glad the banks are finally realizing this. And for those who are credit worthy, the Fed is lowering borrowing rates so the banks can make money on the loans they are willing to extend.