This letter from Howard Buffett, the highly libertarian “Old Right” United States Representative father of Warren, to anarcho-capitalist historian and economist Murray Rothbard, if real, is incredible. Buffett the Elder wrote to Rothbard that he “read that Rothbard had written a book on ‘The Panic of 1819‘” and wanted to know where he could buy a copy for his son “who is a particularly avid reader of books about panics and similar phenomena.”
Here is the letter:
The timing of the letter – July 31, 1962 – is interesting. The first “flash crash” occurred in May 1962, and was at the time the worst crash since 1929. Time LIFE described the 1962 “flash crash” thus:
The signs, like the rumblings of an Alpine ice pack at the time of thaw, had been heard. The glacial heights of the stock boom suddenly began to melt in a thaw of sell-off. More and more stocks went up for sale, with fewer and fewer takers at the asking price. Then suddenly, around lunchtime on Monday, May 28, the sell-off swelled to an avalanche. In one frenzied day in brokerage houses and stock exchanges across the U.S., stock values — glamor and blue-chip alike — took their sharpest drop since 1929.
Memory of the great crash, and the depression that followed, has haunted America’s subconscious. Now, after all these years, was that nightmare to happen again?
The article continues that, “although the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 6 percent on that one vertiginous Monday and the market was anemic for a year afterwards, the markets as a whole, at home and abroad, did bounce back.” Good to know.