Assuming this bailout (Troubled Asset Relief Program) becomes law, I predict Warren Buffett will be asked to run it, pro bono.* With $700 billion of American taxpayer money at stake, politicians will have an exceptionally strong incentive to recruit the absolute best person for the job. Warren Buffett is the obvious guy to pick. Also, this is the year that both presidential candidates are advocating national service—putting country before self. Asking the world's greatest investor to put country before self isn't too much of a stretch.
I estimate the probability that Buffett will be asked to do it is less than 50%, but far higher for him than for any other individual alive.
Here's Vince Farrell's take on CNBC:
Buffett is smarter than I am. He's probably smarter than a lot of other people as well. ...And here's billionaire T. Boone Pickens, interviewed by CNN:
I did love his comment that he wished he had $700 billion to buy the derivatives with. Maybe we should ask him to do it! And I'm not kidding!
Roberts: In fact, you have said, Boone, that you would like to see Warren Buffett handle a lot of these illiquid assets that the government buys up in terms of their disbursement.If Buffett doesn't do it, billionaire "bond king" Bill Gross has volunteered to do it for free.
Pickens: Can you imagine anybody better? Sure, that'd be great if he'd do it. I don't know whether he would or not. But you need to get somebody like Warren to do it.
Roberts: You don't think they have the expertise at the Treasury Department to do it?
Pickens: Oh, they do have. They may need some help. And that kind of help — you can't pay for that kind of help.
* For the world's second richest man, a typical government salary is essentially pro bono.