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Bloomberg

Warren Buffett sees an economy “hot to the brim” with creeping inflation

(Bloomberg) – Warren Buffett has pronounced a clear verdict on the state of the US economy as it emerges from the pandemic: red-hot. “It’s almost redeeming madness,” said Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO. meeting, which was held in practice by Los Angeles. “People have money in their pockets and pay higher prices,”

; he said. Buffett explained the faster-than-expected recovery of swift and decisive bailouts by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government, which helped kick 85 percent of the economy into “super high gear,” he said. But as growth reverses and interest rates remain low, many – including Berkshire – are raising prices and there is more inflation, “than people would have expected six months ago,” he said. Buffett reunited with longtime friend and business partner Charlie Manger for this year’s meeting. Munger did not make it to last year’s meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffett’s hometown, due to the shutdown across the country. Some shareholders were relieved to see the duo ask questions again. “I really feel like both Charlie and Warren showed their usual and incredible levels of sharpness and intellectual energy,” said James Armstrong, who manages assets including Berkshire shares as president of Henry H Armstrong Associates. Buffett and Munger spent hours asking issues, from economics, climate and diversity, the SPAC boom, taxes and inheritance. Here’s the low level: Climate pressure: Berkshire is facing pressure from two shareholder proposals, one to improve transparency related to its climate change efforts. The topic was supposed to be a function of the meeting – and it was. When asked about the proposals, Buffett remained in his previous position. The measures to produce major diversity and climate reports for its energy lines covering energy to the railways were, he said, “Assyrian.” The proposals were later voted against. Buffett was also asked about Berkshire’s stake in oil and gas producer Chevron Corp., which he revealed earlier this year. Buffett said he had “no compassion” at least for his ownership of the company, which he said has benefited society in many ways. Although he acknowledged that the world was moving away from hydrocarbons, people on the fringes of each of the arguments were “a little crazy,” he said, and Greg Abel, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, called climate change a “material risk.” He added that they set goals and spend $ 18 billion over 10 years on transmission infrastructure. SPACs for killers: Buffett warns investors that Berkshire may not be very lucky in making deals amid a boom in special purpose acquisition companies that have taken over the market in the past year “It’s a killer,” Buffett said of the influence of SPAC companies on Berkshire’s ability to find a business to buy. “It won’t go on forever, but there’s the money now, and Wall Street goes where the money is.” Buffett, 90, also spent part of Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday, talking about the recent boom in retail and day trading. Many people have entered the stock market’s “casino” in the past year, he said. Tax: Buffett said President Joe Biden’s proposals to raise the corporate tax would hurt Berkshire shareholders. He added that antitrust laws and tax policy could change things for the company, but the new tax laws would not change its policy without dividends. Inheritance: The 97-year-old Buffett and Munger asked most of the questions at Saturday’s meeting, but their two top deputies, Abel and Ajit Jane, who run the insurers, also shared the scene. Investors were able to take a closer look at the couple, who are considered the best job candidates. Munger declined to mention the years after Buffett, which sparked speculation on social media about the most likely candidate for Buffett’s successor. The CEO pointed out that decentralization does not work everywhere because it requires a certain type of culture that businesses must have. “Yes, but we do,” Munger insisted. “And Greg will keep the culture.” Abel has long been considered Buffett’s best candidate for deputy, especially when he was promoted to vice president in charge of all non-insurance operations, giving him a wide range of responsibilities, including overseeing the BNSF and energy business. Mistakes: Buffett offered several races during Saturday’s meeting. He noted that the sale of some shares of Apple Inc. last year was a mistake and even said that Haven, the healthcare company with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Amazon.com Inc., believes it could fight the “tapeworm” of U.S. health care spending, but the worm won. “It was probably a mistake,” Buffett said of these Apple stock sales last year. Berkshire still owned about $ 110 billion from the iPhone maker at the end of March. “Actually, Charlie, in your usual humble way, tell me you thought it was a mistake, too,” he told Munger, who shared the scene with him. Cash Cup: Before the start of the annual meeting, the company released its first-quarter earnings, which allowed investors to immerse themselves in 19.5% operating profit for the period. Berkshire ended the quarter with nearly a record $ 145.4 billion in cash as it continued to generate funds faster than Buffett could have deployed. But Buffett also completed the withdrawal of some capital leverage during the period. It repurchased only $ 6.6 billion of its own shares in Berkshire, below the record $ 9 billion set in previous quarters, and ended with the second-highest level of net share sales in the first quarter of nearly five years. . For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted source of business news. © 2021 Bloomberg LP


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