Vanity Fair has an article based on what it claims were 11 hours of interviews with Warren Buffett. I've been plenty critical of Mr. Buffett here, and Mr. Buffett uses the article to continue his bashing of the private equity industry that competes with him for deals, but even I appreciate this passage:
Rivaling Buffett's confidence in Berkshire Hathaway is his faith in the United States. "We had four million people here in 1790," he tells Vanity Fair. "We're not more intelligent than people in China, which then had 290 million people, or Europe, which had 50 million. We didn't work harder, we didn't have a better climate, and we didn't have better resources. But we definitely had a system that unleashes potential. This system works. Since then, we've been through at least 15 recessions, a civil war, a Great Depression…. All of these things happen. But this country has optimized human potential, and it's not over yet. It's like what's written on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren: If you seek his monument, look around you."
The headline that Vanity Fair slaps on the press release — "Warren Buffett Speaks Candidly to Vanity Fair About Who Might Succeed Him at Berkshire Hathaway" — is classic press deference to Mr. Buffett. How does Vanity Fair know whether Mr. Buffett was being candid or not? Did they have the guy strapped into a lie-detector machine? It's just hype.