CNBC on Buffett, Munger, and Gates

Selected quotes:


“Charlie will always emphasize the fact that we ought to state the other guy’s case as well as he can and better than he can if possible. That’s when you get to where you can think through your own case better, and that may be his legal training to some extent. But he starts out stating the opposite case.”-B


Retailing is a tough, tough business, partly because your competitors are always attempting and very frequently successfully attempting to copy anything you do that’s working. And so the world keeps moving. It’s hard to establish a permanent moat that your competitor can’t cross. And you’ve seen the giants of retail, the Sears, the Montgomery Wards, the Woolworth’s, the Grants, the Kresges. I mean, over the years, a lot of giants have been toppled. -B


BECKY: Let me ask all three of you. All three of you are investors that spend a lot of time thinking about things. I wonder, with the stock market hitting new highs, if that concerns any of the three of you, if things are starting to look expensive at these levels. Bill, what do you think?

GATES: Well, relative to interest rates, equities are still a bargain. And, you know, so you’ve really got to have an opinion about interest rates to be an investor of any kind in this market. It’s such a key factor. You know, by historical measures, yes, interest rates were very different in most of those time periods.

BECKY: Have you been surprised that interest rates have stayed so low this year?

GATES: Well, the central banks are making sure that’s the case. They are trying to stimulate these economies as best they can. The fact that it requires the gas pedal being pushed to the floor as much as it does is an amazing and even a little bit scary thing.

BECKY: Charlie, what do you think?

MUNGER: Well, I think under what Bill Gross calls the “new normal,” common stocks may not do quite as well in the future as they did in the last 100 years. But that doesn’t mean that the Mungers are going to sell their common stock in an effort to buy them back later cheaper.

BECKY: Warren, how about you?

BUFFETT: Well, the option is to own equities or own fixed dollars. I think it’s clear you own equities. I do not think they’re in crazy territory. But most of the time stocks have been in a zone of reasonableness over my lifetime. I think they’re in the zone of reasonableness now. And certainly if you said to me it’s either going to have to be long the 30-year bond and short an index fund for 30 years or vice versa, it would be long index fund. I would be long in stocks. ”