Buffett on Buffett

More

Scores of reporters, columnists, and bloggers have been weighing in on Warren Buffett's subpoenaed testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, especially his suggestion that although Berkshire Hathaway acquired a significant share in Moody's, an agency that gave high marks to ultimately worthless mortgage-related securities, he really didn't believe much in ratings and did his own analysis.

Mr. Buffett's attitude toward the ratings business reminds me of a lucrative but potentially time-robbing job offer I received when I was turning from editing to writing. I suggested instead a part-time, home-based position of a kind that was becoming popular in some book publishing circles, and I pointed out that the company's business division was featuring works extolling the new flexible workplace. I'll never forget the only half-joking reply: "We just publish them. We don't read them."

My favorite commentary is by Mr. Buffett himself, a prophetic assessment of his own position in ratings, and the financial catastrophe that they helped make possible, in a famous remark years ago:

When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is usually the reputation of the business that remains intact.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Fascinating Short Film About the Multiverse

If life is a series of infinite possibilities, what does it mean to be alive?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

From This Author

Just In