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Thousands of people fill arena to hear from Warren Buffett
08 May 2017, 03:54 | Dawn Berry
Speaking at an annual conference of his company's shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, Buffett said that healthcare costs were the biggest problem facing United States businesses, adding that his federal income taxes previous year would have gone down 17 percent had the new healthcare law been in effect.
"Medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness", Buffett said.
Most of the weekend's other events celebrated shopping at companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance launched two insurance policies that cover cyber liability and the costs incurred to respond to a data breach or threat.
Buffett's change of heart would be both a boon to his shareholders and somewhat ironic: The investor has publicly espoused the value of income-paying stocks, particularly for retirement savers, but may bring dividends to Berkshire just as he prepares to retire himself.
"They were totally wrong on that", Buffett said in Omaha, Neb., at the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
At Wells Fargo there were three very significant mistakes, he says, but the biggest problem was the bank's incentive system.
Buffett said the $3 trillion hedge-fund industry is "such a big game" that people are able to make "huge sums of money, far beyond what they're going to make in medicine" or other professions.
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He said Republicans also had prevailed on defense funding, although the budget gives Trump only about half of what he was seeking. He says it's "a really good down payment" on rebuilding the military and "the biggest increase in border security in a decade".
But for long time watchers of Buffett, perhaps the most tantalising point to emerge, was a stronger suggestion of a dividend - either by way of a cash payment or capital management. For most of his career, Buffett avoided technology stocks, saying the companies were outside his expertise.
Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway and Bill Gates, billionaire and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
Increasing healthcare costs and not high tax rates, were impacting America Inc., according to him. "The main problem was they didn't act when they learned about it".
"Berkshire ended March with more than $96 billion of cash and cash-like instruments, and Munger said it could do a "$150 billion" acquisition now if it wanted. A year ago the shares rose more than 23%, nearly twice the rise in the S&P 500 (plus reinvested dividends) and the 10.7% rise in the book value of Berkshire Hathaway shares.
"We want you to understand what you own", he said, and "there are just a million things that are of minor importance" at Berkshire, whose market value is about $411 billion.
"We need a money mind as CEO", said Buffett, who has no plans to retire.
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