Yes, the halo is justified regarding his ability to create wealth. No one else has ever made so much money for investors through capital allocation. There is plenty of public information (and a lot of information in The Snowball that is new) that if considered thoughtfully shows that Buffett’s performance came from a combination of relentless drive, ruthless self-interest, boundless curiosity about a narrow subject, record-breaking parsimony, social climbing, complex financial maneuvers, occasional bullying, a keen understanding of the tax code, ceaseless study of financial and business arcana, the critical insight that running a hedge fund created low risk almost zero-cost leverage, the critical insight that insurance float created low risk zero-cost leverage, and the gradual accumulation of personal and institutional advantages from the repeated application of all of these things. I may have left a few things out, but this is the gist. Like most great performances, Buffett’s success is to be admired for its scale, audacity, creativity, and ambition — although not necessarily emulated in every respect.
-by Alice Schroeder, Author “The Snowball”