Warren Buffett’s Father Tried to Teach Him about ABCT–The Panic of 1819

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ABCT stands for Austrian Business Cycle Theory.

Howard Buffett’s Letter to Murray Rothbard, Austrian Economist

See the letter here:http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2012/05/warren-buffetts-father-tried-to-teach.html

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

Political philosophy

Howard Buffett is remembered for his Libertarian stance, having maintained a friendship with Murray Rothbard for a number of years.[6] He “would invariably draw ‘zero’ ratings from the Americans for Democratic Action and other leftist groups.”[7]

Buffett was a vocal critic of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.[3] Of the Truman Doctrine, he said: “Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns.”[8] Buffett was also “one of the major voices in Congress opposed to the Korean adventure,”[7] and “was convinced that the United States was largely responsible for the eruption of conflict in Korea; for the rest of his life he tried unsuccessfully to get the Senate Armed Services Committee to declassify the testimony of CIA head Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, which Buffett told [Rothbard] established American responsibility for the Korean outbreak.”[9]

Speaking on the floor of Congress, he said of military interventionism that,

Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.[9][10]

In the summer of 1962, he wrote “an impassioned plea… for the abolition of the draft” in the National Review.[5] Buffett wrote:

When the American government conscripts a boy to go 10,000 miles to the jungles of Asia without a declaration of war by Congress (as required by the Constitution) what freedom is safe at home? Surely, profits of U.S. Steel or your private property are not more sacred than a young man’s right to life.[5]

In addition to non-interventionism overseas, Howard Buffett strongly supported the gold standard because he believed it would limit the ability of government to inflate the money supply and spend beyond its means.[11] His son Warren Buffett is not an advocate of the gold standard.[12][13]


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.

Here is a link to the mentioned book, The Panic of 1819,  http://mises.org/rothbard/panic1819.pdf  A facinating read.

The Panic of 1819

In 1819 a financial panic swept across the country. The growth in trade that followed the War of 1812 came to an abrupt halt. Unemployment mounted, banks failed, mortgages were foreclosed, and agricultural prices fell by half. Investment in western lands collapsed.

The panic was frightening in its scope and impact. In New York State, property values fell from $315 million in 1818 to $256 million in 1820. In Richmond, property values fell by half. In Pennsylvania, land values plunged from $150 an acre in 1815 to $35 in 1819. In Philadelphia, 1,808 individuals were committed to debtors’ prison. In Boston, the figure was 3,500.

For the first time in American history, the problem of urban poverty commanded public attention. In New York in 1819, the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism counted 8,000 paupers out of a population of 120,000. The next year, the figure climbed to 13,000. Fifty thousand people were unemployed or irregularly employed in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and one foreign observer estimated that half a million people were jobless nationwide.

Read more: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display_printable.cfm?HHID=574

Austrian Business Cycle Theory (“ABCT”)

A seven minute video described http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K4Os5eXPw4

ABCT briefly explained here:http://mises.org/daily/672

And refuted here: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2008/01/whats_wrong_wit_6.html

Remember to always seek out ideas, thoughts and conclusions DIFFERENT from your own or the original premise that you are investigating.

Note the comment about Warren Buffett’s avid study of panics. Hint.

Enjoy your weekend

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