Buffett expresses sympathy, but Berkshire political spending proposal fails

The billionaire investor was speaking at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders' meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, which is attended every year by tens of thousands of investors and is referred to as the "Woodstock of capitalism".

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Saturday said he doubted coal could make a comeback, dismissing a push by US President Donald Trump to revive the declining American industry.

Most are referred back to the subsidiary company but Buffett says he hears about the serious ones and they take steps to root out "practices we wouldn't condone at the parent company".

Buffett said that medical costs "are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness", and have risen much faster in the USA than in the rest of the world: to 17 percent of gross domestic product from 5 percent in 1960 or thereabouts.

A lot of things are institutionalised in business.


Prominent investor Warren Buffett said Wells Fargo's incentive system was the San Francisco bank's biggest error, which led to an embarrassing scandal that led to the resignation of former CEO John Stumpf and sullied the bank's image as a poster child for good banks. "Nobody would possibly replace Ajit Jain if he were to leave or retire".

Berkshire and 3G jointly bought H.J. Heinz Co in 2013 and merged it with Kraft Foods Group two years later. He said Friday that Berkshire recently sold off one-third of its 81 million IBM shares because the investment hasn't performed as well as he expected.

Buffett said that the lower rate of healthcare spending in other countries is one of the biggest disadvantages for U.S. businesses.

Buffett said the San Francisco banking giant's executives failed to act immediately after finding out that employees were creating countless fake and fraudulent bank accounts to meet the company's unrealistic sales goals.

Buffett also addressed questions about his successor as chief executive, including whether plans had changed because he praised fewer managers than usual in his February shareholder letter.


"We count very heavily on principles of behavior rather than loads of rules", Buffett said.

Buffett said flawed compensation is also a problem for hedge-fund managers, arguing that people would be better off sticking their money in a low-priced index fund.

To a pointed question on Apple, a stock on which Berkshire doubled its stake in first quarter, Buffett said he looks at Apple more as a consumer stock than a tech bet. Buffett has said most of the money he's leaving for his wife after his death will be invested in a Vanguard S&P 500 index.

Seventy-year-old Dave Mueller flew out from Denver, Colorado, for his fourth meeting because he loves hearing the 86-year-old Buffett and 93-year-old Munger talk.



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