With the Fourth of July upon us, Americans everywhere are celebrating the freedoms and joys our great country offers. And there is one billionaire who loves America perhaps more than anyone else, and he wants you to as well.
Who is it?
But don't just take my words on it. Consider a few of his over the years.
The big buy
In 2009 Berkshire Hathaway bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe, a railroad company that was valued at $44 billion. At the time, Buffett noted it was "an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States."
When reviewing the purchase -- which has been remarkably successful -- this year Buffett said:
That kind of commitment was nothing new for us: We've been making similar wagers ever since Buffett Partnership Ltd. acquired control of Berkshire in 1965. For good reason, too. Charlie [Munger}and I have always considered a "bet" on ever-rising U.S. prosperity to be very close to a sure thing.
He went on to say (with emphasis added):
Indeed, who has ever benefited during the past 237 years by betting against America? If you compare our country's present condition to that existing in 1776, you have to rub your eyes in wonder. And the dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic. America's best days lie ahead.
But it isn't just 2014 when Buffett believed the future of America was bright. In fact, in February of 2009, 2011, and 2012 as the market still roiled thanks to the Great Recession, Buffett repeated, "America's best days lie ahead."
As the economy was collapsing thanks to the Great Recession, in February of 2009 Buffett said:
Amid this bad news, however, never forget that our country has faced far worse travails in the past. In the 20th Century alone, we dealt with two great wars (one of which we initially appeared to be losing); a dozen or so panics and recessions; virulent inflation that led to a 21.5% prime rate in 1980; and the Great Depression of the 1930s, when unemployment ranged between 15% and 25% for many years. America has had no shortage of challenges. Without fail, however, we've overcome them.
And as those questions still swirled, two years later he added:
Money will always flow toward opportunity, and there is an abundance of that in America...We are not natively smarter than we were when our country was founded nor do we work harder. But look around you and see a world beyond the dreams of any colonial citizen. Now, as in 1776, 1861, 1932 and 1941, America's best days lie ahead.
The reason for the optimism
It makes sense Buffett so dearly loves our country. It isn't just blind optimism that has guided him, but the path his career has taken.
While he doesn't quite hold the same "rags-to-riches" story of those characterized by Horatio Alger, he nonetheless was a boy who grew up selling bottles of Coca-Cola for nickels and saved his money to buy stocks, which propelled him into investing.
This ultimately led him to his mentor, Ben Graham, who taught him the critical foundations that characterized his career. From there he was met with immense success which ultimately propelled him into purchasing Berkshire Hathaway, a textile firm valued at $18 million in 1965.
Berkshire Hathaway is now a conglomerate valued at nearly $315 billion, and from 1965 to the end of last year, its per share value has risen by a staggering 693,518%.
Oh and those Coca-Cola bottles? Berkshire Hathaway now owns $17 billion worth of Coca-Cola, or 9% of the company.
With all that in mind, it's no wonder he openly tells us he loves this country, and reminds us we should too. From this we should remember with thanks and gratitude all those who have served our country and defended the freedoms we have enjoyed over the last 238 years, because without them, none of this would even be imaginable.
There are countless stories of success in America, but undeniably Buffett should be toward the top of the list.