Buffett downplays value clash between Berkshire, cost-cutting 3G
Warren Buffett likened unemployed workers to animals that are helpless to avoid auto crashes, and said the USA must do more to help those displaced by competition from overseas and technology.
The Berkshire Hathaway chairman, speaking at an annual shareholders’ meeting in Omaha, Neb., said his federal income taxes previous year would have gone down 17 percent had the new law been enacted.
“We should try to hit both objectives, to make sure there is not roadkill and 320 million people get the benefits of free trade”, Buffett said.
“I don’t know that much about cyber, but I do think that’s the number one problem with mankind”, said Buffett at the meeting.
Warren Buffett admits he missed the boat on investing in two of today’s most successful tech companies: Google and Amazon.
This “incentivized the wrong type of behavior”, and former Chief Executive John Stumpf, who lost his job over the scandal, was too slow to fix the problem, Buffett said.
Listening to Warren Buffett never gets old to the thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders filling an arena to listen to the billionaire investor at the company’s annual meeting. “We don’t like that and we shouldn’t use your money that way for a long period of time”, he said at the meeting.
“So it is a huge tax cut for guys like me”, he said.
Buffett did say that his retail businesses – Fruit of the Loom and Nebraska Furniture Mart – have seen an increase in online shopping, but have also seen increasing same store sales and thus the effect has not been a negative one.
Buffett said his federal income taxes would have gone down 17 percent previous year if the GOP bill was in effect.
Most of the weekend’s other events celebrate shopping at companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
“I can very easily determine the competitive position of Apple now and who is trying to chase them”, he said.
He said he was more comfortable buying shares of Apple Inc AAPL.O , in which Berkshire has disclosed a 133 million share stake, worth close to $20 billion on Friday.
Buffett also noted that Berkshire reported far fewer investment gains in the first quarter, which dragged on results, but said the company now has a slight preference for taking tax losses, which could lose value if Washington lawmakers reduce the 35 percent corporate tax rate.
The investment guru self-deprecatingly admitted that he and Berkshire vice chairman Charlie Munger “miss a lot of things, and we’ll keep doing it”.
“I was impressed with Jeff early”.