El gobierno de Estados Unidos trató de entender hace unos años, qué fue lo que causó la burbuja inmobiliaria en el país, durante la primera década del siglo XXI.
Una de los métodos que utilizaron para tratar de entenderlo fue entrevistar a banqueros, reguladores, grandes inversores y políticos, por un comité creado especialmente para ello: Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee.
Una de las personas a las que entrevistó el comité, fue Warren Buffett. La entrevista se realizó en 2010. En el siguiente enlace podéis descargaros la transcripción íntegra:
En general es una entrevista muy interesante, pero tiene algunos fragmentos relacionados con las burbujas que lo son de forma especial.
¿Qué causó la burbuja inmobiliaria?
“The basic cause, you know, embedded in psychology, was a pervasive belief that house prices couldn’t go down and everyone, virtually everybody, succumbed to that. But that’s the only way you get a bubble is when basically a very high percentage of the population buys into some originally sound premise. It’s quite interesting how that develops.
The originally sound premise that becomes distorted as time passes and people forget the original sound premise and start focusing solely on the price action. So the media investors, the mortgage bankers, the American public, me, my neighbor, rating agencies, Congress, you name it — people overwhelmingly came to believe that house prices could not fall significantly. And since it was biggest asset class in the country and it was the easiest class to borrow against, it created probably the biggest bubble in our history.”
Sobre la naturaleza de las burbujas:
“My former boss, Ben Graham, made an observation, 50 or so years ago to me that it really stuck in my mind and now I’ve seen evidence of it. He said, “You can get in a whole lot more trouble in investing with a sound premise than with a false premise.”
If you have some premise that the moon is made of green cheese or something, it’s ridiculous on its face. If you come out with a premise that stocks have historically done better than bonds [and history shows that’s the case, people put their money behind it.]
That became the underlying bulwark for the 1929 stock bubble. People thought stocks were starting to be wonderful and they forgot the limitations of the original premise. So after a while, the original premise, which becomes sort of the impetus for what later turns out to be a bubble, is forgotten and the price action [prices going up] takes over.
We saw the same thing in housing. It’s a totally sound premise that houses will become worth more over time because the dollar becomes worth less. It isn’t because construction costs go up. It isn’t because houses are so wonderful. It’s because the dollar becomes worth less, and that a house that was bought 40 years ago is worth more today than it was then.
And since 66 or 67 percent of the people want to own their own home, and because you can borrow money on it and you’re dreaming of buying a home, if you really believe that houses are going to go up in value, you buy one as soon as you can. And that’s a very sound premise. And once that gathers momentum and it gets reinforced by price action and the original premise is forgotten, which it was in 1929.
The Internet was the same thing. The Internet was going to change our lives. But it didn’t mean that every company was worth $50 billion that could [go public].
And the price action becomes so important to people that it takes over their minds. Because housing was the largest single asset, around $22 trillion or something like that. Such a huge asset. So the public — they might not understand stocks, they might not understand tulip bulbs, but they understood houses. And the [easy] financing, you could leverage up to the sky, it created a bubble like we’ve never seen. I wish I had figured that out in 2005.”
¿Burbujas en el futuro?
“We will have other bubbles in the future. I mean, there’s no question about it.”