Needless to say, Taleb's words had barely made it to the online forum before being pounced upon by a number of Buffett followers. Among them was Janet Tavakoli, president of Tavakoli Structured Finance and author of a book based on the famous investor.
In a scathing email to CNBC, she defended Buffett's investing record and offered up Taleb's own Empirica Kurtosis fund, which after a strong initial performance posted years of subpar returns and eventually closed, as a more appropriate example of dumb luck.
Interestingly, though no response has come from Buffett himself, there is a chance that he and Nassim Taleb may actually see eye to eye. When asked about his success in an interview with the BBC in late 2009, the Oracle of Omaha himself echoed the author's feelings, saying, "...if I was born in a different time or a different place, I'd be an animal's lunch. I'm lucky..."
Whether due to skill or luck, it's hard to deny Buffett's success. He may have benefited from a bull market in stocks, but his long track record of beating the S&P 500 shows that his ability to find undervalued companies also plays a role in his success.Even though he failed to beat the S&P 500 in 2009, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) pocketed billions with his bets on both the struggling Goldman Sachs (GS) and the small Chinese electric car company, BYD. With the amount of heat that Taleb's statements about Buffett have generated, and with many investors now becoming shareholders via index ETFs and mutual funds, it would be interesting to see what readers at TheStreet.com have to say about the issue. Where do you stand? Please feel free to leave a comment below sharing your take on Buffett's investing success. -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
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