"I wish I had seen it coming. I knew we had something of a housing bubble, but the way it hit like a tsunami in the housing market - I did not expect that."О капитализме:
What would you say are the key lessons you took from the financial crisis?
"They are not new lessons. Never owe any money you can't pay tomorrow morning. Never let the markets dictate your actions. Always be in a position to play your own game. Never take on more risks than you can handle. But all of those were old lessons, unfortunately. Even though I didn't see it coming, those lessons which are timeless allowed us to in effect profit from it rather than suffer from it. Good businesses, good management, plenty of liquidity, always having a loaded gun; if you play by those principles you will do fine no matter what happens. And you don't ever know what's going to happen."
Do you see things differently today than you did 10 or 20 years ago - the shortcomings of capitalism?О демократии и плутократии:
"No, I think capitalism is terrific. Also 10 or 20 years ago. All systems have failings and can be subject to abuse, but if you look at what has been produced over the past couple hundred years or the last 50 years in Israel, and the last couple hundred years in the United States and the last 30 years in much of the emerging world - capitalism works.
"It's got its failings and imperfections, but I don't know of a better system and I certainly don't know a system that has produced the gains and the standard of living that capitalism has.
"I was born in 1930, I'm 80 years old, and in the 80 years since then, the average standard of living for Americans has improved six for one in real terms. Six for one! You go back to the Middle Ages, you went centuries and you were lucky if you were looking at a 1% increase. When I came out of the womb in 1930, we faced a depression, we faced a world war that it looked like we were losing but the system works. It unleashes human potential."
"We are still a democracy, but we have moved in my lifetime towards a plutocracy. We do not have a plutocracy, I want to emphasize that, but the distribution of wealth and the influence of wealth have moved in that direction.
"If you look at the 1992 top-400 tax returns in the United States, the average income for those 400 people was $45 million per person. The last available figures show $340 million per person - that is eight for one in a period when the average worker went no place.
"The average tax rate for the top 400 went from 28% down to 16.6% during the same period, so we have had a system where as people have gotten richer and richer, they have been favored by taxation and have gotten richer to a greater degree. To my mind that is a bad trend, and it will probably get corrected in time. The rich have more influence in politics than they did 50 years ago."
How will it change?
"I think it will change because we still have a democracy. Eventually the power of a correct idea is felt, but sometimes it is long and delayed."