Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) - Get Report (BRK.A) - Get Report has big investments in major companies -- Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , American Express Company (AXP) - Get Report , Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report and more.
It didn't make its fortune on gold bars -- as chairman Warren Buffett points out in is his annual letter to shareholders, giving warning to those ready to give up on American ingenuity and to give into predictions of national collapse.
"Those who regularly preach doom because of government budget deficits (as I regularly did myself for many years) might note that our country's national debt has increased roughly 400-fold during the last of my 77-year periods," writes Buffett, setting up his argument.
"Suppose you had foreseen this increase and panicked at the prospect of runaway deficits and a worthless currency," he writes. Instead of buying stocks, this fortune-telling investor might have bought 3 and a quarter ounces of gold for $114.75.
"You would now have an asset worth about $4,200, less than 1% of what would have been realized from a simple unmanaged investment in American business."
"The magical metal was no match for the American mettle," writes Buffett in his signature witty prose.
The nation has had seven Republican and the same number of Democratic presidents since 1942, he writes, and they have had to deal with extended inflation, a 21% prime rate, pricey wars, the political fall of one of their own -- Richard Nixon, plummeting home values, the great recession and more.
"All engendered scary headlines; all are now history," he writes. Now, he writes, hundreds of years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified and there was little wealth to go around, "the Federal Reserve estimates our household wealth at $108 trillion, an amount almost impossible to comprehend."