Warren Buffett had his annual charity lunch today and was on CNBC for a short interview. As usual, he was asked about the current stock market situations and, as usual, he managed to sum everything up in a few folksy sentences. Here’s a direct quote from the full CNBC interview:

If you had your choice between buying and holding a 30-year bond for 30 years or holding a basket of American stocks, there’s just no question, you’re going to do better owning stocks. It’s more attractive than, considerably more attractive than fixed income securities. That doesn’t meant they’re going to go up or down tomorrow, next week, or next year, but over time, a bunch of businesses that are earning high returns on capital are going to beat a bond that’s fixed at roughly 3% or 30 years. And it’s not my field of specialty, but actually they look, stock generally (American businesses), they look cheaper than, generally, real estate.

[…] That’s what you have to do in investing. I mean, you’re sitting with some cash in your pocket. You have savings, and the question is what do you do with it? You can buy a duplex next door and rent it out to people and do fine over time or buy a small piece of farmland or something of the sort or you can put it into something fixed income, bonds, or bank deposits, or whatever it may be.

My interpretation is that you have invest your money somewhere, and if you have a 30-year time horizon and you don’t plan on timing the market in and out, then stocks are still your best bet. Over the long haul, stocks will still outperform bonds and cash (at current interest rates), and he thinks real estate as well right now. Timing the market is too hard to do. Predicting returns over the next 5 years is too hard to do. If you don’t have a long enough time horizon or can’t handle the swings, you shouldn’t be in stocks.

Long-term stock investors just have to take some lumps if prices drop for a while. Keep enough money in bonds and cash so you don’t panic and have money to spend in the meantime.

[I actually have an issue with the CNBC caption “Buffett: Stocks always more attractive than bonds”. He never said that. He specifically noted that the 30-year bond was paying 3%. In the past (1970s?), Buffett has invested in Treasury bonds when the rates were really high and the stock market was overvalued. If today’s rates were 8% instead of 3%, he is rational enough to adjust his opinion.]

Warren Buffett on Reaching Stock Market Highs from My Money Blog.

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