The financial world's Warren Buffett is not one to sit back and simply observe events. He has been issuing warnings about the nation's financial situation for a long time, and too many people with the ability to alter things paid no attention.
One would think that with his record of achievement in economic circles, Buffett's notions would have been given more notice. He and many other able, responsible, intelligent and knowledgeable people warned that the ship was on fire and that remedial action was vital.
But leave it to Buffett to take some extra steps to help a country he loves so much. He has provided a $5 billion investment and a common stock offering for another $5 billion to bail out the Goldman Sachs Group Inc., whose balance sheet was badly in need of help.
A week ago, Goldman's stock price plunged in response to fears it could not survive as an independent investment bank. In stepped Buffett.
Goldman decided to move ahead with the capital-raising efforts using Buffett's astounding investment "as an anchor" for a common stock offering. The move was pleasing to Wall Street, and there is hope that new disasters can be averted.
The Oracle of Omaha has a wide range of talents and achievements, and he is not going blindly into this morass. He has ventured into Wall Street in troubled times before. In the late 1980s, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway invested in Salomon Brothers Inc. When the investment firm admitted wrongdoing in bidding for U.S. Treasury bonds in 1991, Buffett became interim chairman and helped Salomon reach a settlement with the government before stepping down in 1992. Salomon was later sold to what is now Citigroup.
A businessman to the core, Buffett is not doing this out of mere goodness of his heart. He, of course, hopes his investment eventually will make money for his company, but his investment this week also provided a dramatic illustration in his faith that the U.S. economy can recover and prosper again.
Buffett is the classic example of a financial patriot who is willing to "put his money where his mouth is." His sound advice in the past was ignored by too many. Perhaps now he'll get the attention he deserves.