Re: Friedman shorts Ahmadinejad to bet with Buffet on Israel's long future..
- From: Ariadne <ariadne.mac@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2008 12:32:08 -0700 (PDT)
On Jun 11, 7:08 pm, "¯Doug¦Ç" <noün...@xxxxxxx> wrote:
But will the Iranian nutjobs read this article?
"Ariadne" <ariadne....@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
People vs. Dinosaurs
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By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: June 8, 2008
Tefen Industrial Park, Israel
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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
Question: What do America?s premier investor, Warren Buffett, and
Iran?s toxic president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have in common? Answer:
They?ve both made a bet about Israel?s future.
Ahmadinejad declared on Monday that Israel ?has reached its final
phase and will soon be wiped out from the geographic scene.?
By coincidence, I heard the Iranian leader?s statement on Israel Radio
just as I was leaving the headquarters of Iscar, Israel?s famous
precision tool company, headquartered in the Western Galilee, near the
Lebanon border. Iscar is known for many things, most of all for being
the first enterprise that Buffett bought overseas for his holding
company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar and the deal just
happened to close a few days before Hezbollah, a key part of Iran?s
holding company, attacked Israel in July 2006, triggering a monthlong
war. I asked Iscar?s chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, what was Buffett?s
reaction when he found out that he had just paid $4 billion for an
Israeli company and a few days later Hezbollah rockets were landing
outside its parking lot.
Buffett just brushed it off with a wave, recalled Wertheimer: ?He
said, ?I?m not interested in the next quarter. I?m interested in the
next 20 years.? ? Wertheimer repaid that confidence by telling half
his employees to stay home during the war and using the other half to
keep the factory from not missing a day of work and setting a
production record for the month. It helps when many of your
?employees? are robots that move around the buildings, beeping humans
out of the way.
So who would you put your money on? Buffett or Ahmadinejad? I?d short
Ahmadinejad and go long Warren Buffett.
Why? From outside, Israel looks as if it?s in turmoil, largely because
the entire political leadership seems to be under investigation. But
Israel is a weak state with a strong civil society. The economy is
exploding from the bottom up. Israel?s currency, the shekel, has
appreciated nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of
The reason? Israel is a country that is hard-wired to compete in a
flat world. It has a population drawn from 100 different countries,
speaking 100 different languages, with a business culture that
strongly encourages individual imagination and adaptation and where
being a nonconformist is the norm. While you were sleeping, Israel has
gone from oranges to software, or as they say around here, from Jaffa
The day I visited the Iscar campus, one of its theaters was filled
with industrialists from the Czech Republic, who were getting a
lecture ? in Czech ? from Iscar experts. The Czechs came all the way
to the Israel-Lebanon border region to learn about the latest
innovations in precision tool-making. Wertheimer is famous for staying
close to his customers and the latest technologies. ?If you sleep on
the floor,? he likes to say, ?you never have to worry about falling
out of bed.?
That kind of hunger explains why, in the first quarter of 2008, the
top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for
start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572
million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.
Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with
Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel?s M.I.T.,
told me: ?In the last eight months, we have had delegations from
I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our
campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel.?
Ahmadinejad professes not to care about such things. He was ? to put
it in American baseball terms ? born on third base and thinks he hit a
triple. Because oil prices have gone up to nearly $140 a barrel, he
feels relaxed predicting that Israel will disappear, while Iran
maintains a welfare state ? with more than 10 percent unemployment.
Iran has invented nothing of importance since the Islamic Revolution,
which is a shame. Historically, Iranians have been a dynamic and
inventive people ? one only need look at the richness of Persian
civilization to see that. But the Islamic regime there today does not
trust its people and will not empower them as individuals.
Of course, oil wealth can buy all the software and nuclear technology
you want, or can?t develop yourself. This is not an argument that we
shouldn?t worry about Iran. Ahmadinejad should, though.
Iran?s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on
extracting oil from the ground. Israel?s economic and military power
today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its
people. Israel?s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran?s is a
dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.
So who will be here in 20 years? I?m with Buffett: I?ll bet on the
people who bet on their people ? not the people who bet on dead
One of his occasional great articles, particularly the penultimate
Probably, because Friedman is pretty often on the wrong side!
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