Warren Buffett shared his thoughts on coronavirus in a Yahoo Finance interview last week (his comments are split across six YouTube videos).
The 89-year-old investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO compared the historic market sell-off it sparked to past crashes, discussed how the outbreak is changing people’s behavior, joked about the health precautions he’s taken, and expressed optimism about America’s prospects once the pandemic ends.
Buffett also touched on other topics including negative interest rates and even his own death.
Here are his 12 best quotes from the interview:
1. “I’ve always felt a pandemic would happen sometime” – explaining why he isn’t surprised by the spread of coronavirus.
2. “It wasn’t October 1987 but it was an imitation anyway, and the combination of the coronavirus and what happened with oil, that’s a big one-two punch” – referring to Monday, March 9, and the biggest stock-market decline since the financial crisis.
3. “There will be interruptions, and I don’t know when they will occur, and I don’t how deep they will occur, I do know they will occur from time to time, and I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end” – on the inevitability and fleeting nature of disruptions to the global economy.
4. “If you stick around long enough you’ll see everything in markets, and it [took] me to 89 years of age to throw this one into the experience” – outlining why he wasn’t rattled by the historic sell-off.
5. “That’s only three of my lifetimes, and there wasn’t anything here” – trumpeting America’s relentless progress since its founding less than 250 years ago.
6. “I’m drinking a little more Coca-Cola actually, that seems to have warded off everything else in life” – joking while shamelessly promoting one of his biggest investments.
7. “I’m a probabilities guy in my nature. It’ll be 2.8 million deaths [in the US] this year and at age 89, I’m a little more likely to be in that group” – discussing the rising odds of his death with each passing year.
8. “They puzzle me, but they don’t scare me” – sharing his view on negative interest rates, which could soon become reality in the US after the Federal Reserve cut rates to near zero this month.
9. “I would say that’s the most important question in the world but I don’t know the answer. If we knew the answer it wouldn’t be the most important question” – on the impact of negative interest rates on financial markets.
10. “If you promised to pay me something at 3% a year, that would have been a terrible instrument for me to own at almost any time in history, but today if you’re good for it, it’s fabulous” – detailing how historically low yields on government bonds make other investments more attractive.
11. “I’ve seen evidence of that same awakening or whatever it may be of the public. They changed their behavior substantially” – describing how people are driving less due to coronavirus, leading to a “noticeable” drop in insurance claims filed with Geico and other Berkshire-owned insurers.
12. “I was at a birthday party and that’s all they talked about. I suddenly became very popular, I was like a sports hero or something [for] a very brief period of time” – describing the surge in concern about money-market accounts in September 2008, as people feared they would lose everything.
This content was originally published here.