Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates appeared on the NBC Nightly News Wednesday speaking with Tom Brokaw about the current economic crisis. Gates wasn't concerned about the state of the U.S. economy in the long run. Historical data would support his longer-term view, but that won't make the current disarray and uncertainty about the economy any less scary for investors riding the daily, nausea-inducing roller coaster.
Brokaw observed that Gates seemed to be cool, or not terribly worried, about the U.S. financial crisis. "The U.S. economy in the long run is going to do very, very well. There are some interesting and meaningful decisions to be made in the next weeks," Gates said. He didn't get into the details about those decisions facing Congress, but legislators and the business community are likely seeking his advice. His good friend Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is investing around $5 billion in Goldman Sachs, providing a confidence boost to the market.
As for continued technology innovation in light of the economic upheaval, Gates said, "In terms of inventing new medicines or improving software, or new ways of doing things, the level of investment will stay very high." That said, conservation of capital will be in the minds of VCs and start-ups until the economy rights itself.
Earlier in the day, Gates told Bloomberg that problems with the U.S. economy would likely reduce government support for combating the world's problems, such as poverty and disease. "There are the rich-world economies and the developing-world economies and, while the degree to which they are linked is not well understood, when one suffers it can't be good for the other. Rich-world budgets may not have room for increased generosity.''