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Wisdom from the Sage of Omaha

Warren Buffett was as witty and profound as ever in Berkshire Hathway's shareholders' meet

Wisdom from the Sage of Omaha

A choice collection of Buffettisms from the first ever Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting telecast live:

  1. I did decide fairly early in my life that my favourite employer was myself.
  2. When running a public company, you do waste your time on quite a bit of stuff that isn't productive.
  3. The nature of capitalism is that if you've got a good business, somebody's always trying to figure out how to take it away from you and improve on it.
  4. Generally, if you take care of your customer, your customer takes care of you.
  5. You don't want to get envious of somebody who's won the lottery or bought an IPO that went up. You have to figure out what makes sense and follow your own course.
  6. (On the business of active fund management) For the population as a whole, American business has done wonderfully and the net result of hiring professional management is a huge minus.
  7. The majority of the American public thinks that it's a bad time to be born today, compared to when they were born. They're wrong.
  8. (On the impact of low/negative interest rates) There's no question that having a lot of money around now is not just a problem for insurance companies. It's a problem for retirees. It's a problem for anybody that's stuck with fixed dollar investments, and finds that their income now is a pittance
  9. If you look at returns on tangible equity, just check them out some time, they have not suffered even as people who own fixed interest instruments have suffered enormously and farm prices are down.
  10. (On the rise of Amazon and shift from push to pull marketing) The full effect on the industry is far from having been seen. It is a big force, which has already disrupted plenty of people and it will disrupt more. Charlie and I are not going to 'out-Bezos' Bezos by a long shot but we are going to think about that.
  11. (On the dangers of derivatives) If there was a discontinuity I don't know exactly where we're going to end up. I'm never going to get us in a position where we could have money demanded of us, and not be able to fulfill it with ease, and with me sleeping well. So we won't engage in it.
  12. There have been periods in business history where practically all stocks sold at dramatic discounts from what you might call intrinsic value and it's interesting that very little activity occurred there....To some extent, when the discounts are huge, money is hard to get.
  13. (On banking business) Since 2009, the rules have been against the larger banks, primarily through capital requirements and that just means returns on equity go down. But returns on equity were awfully high prior to that. It hasn't turned it into a bad business. It's turned it into a less attractive business than it was earlier.
  14. (On Valeant Pharmaceuticals): It illustrated a principle that Pete Kiewit said many years ago: "If you're looking for a manager, find somebody who's intelligent, energetic and has integrity. If they don't have the last, be sure they don't have the first two."
  15. Increasing capital acts as an anchor on returns in many ways. One of ways is that just in terms of availability, it drives us into businesses that are much more capital-intensive.