From the wires today:
“OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company reported a 40 percent drop in second-quarter profit Friday because the improvement at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s operating companies couldn’t overcome $1.4 billion in paper losses on derivative contracts. Berkshire’s strong performances from its railroad, insurance and manufacturing businesses was overshadowed by the plummeting value of the Omaha company’s derivatives — many of which are tied to the value of four major stock markets.”
From Buffett himself in 2002:
“The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”
From Bloomberg recently:
“Buffett’s well known for his criticism of derivatives. Yet Berkshire in recent years has become a big player, with some $60 billion in derivatives contracts. Under any new derivatives regulation, Berkshire would be likely to have to produce collateral for new derivatives contracts it writes. This would limit the attractiveness of new derivatives deals for Buffett, who has boasted that Berkshire rarely does a deal that calls for it to produce collateral. But that’s not why Buffett has been pushing back against the financial reform bill in the Senate. Instead, Buffett says he’s concerned that the legislation would impose collateral requirements on existing contracts — which he says would be illegal. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., made the same case this week as he defected from the Democrats backing the financial reform bill. Whatever his logic, pushing back on derivatives reform has the interesting side effect of aligning Buffett, with his sterling reputation, with the widely derided Wall Street banks.”
Buy and hold? Buying strong businesses? Derivatives are weapons of mass destruction? Bailouts of many of the components of BRKA? Does anyone have the cajones to criticize Buffett? There has to be at least one emasculated weenie out there who will come on here and tell me that I can’t criticize America’s wealthiest just because he is rich. Right?
The Buffett myth is just that — a myth. If not for the fall 2008 bailouts, he would be on the senior circuit revising history along with Greenspan. Why my stark view on this lovely sunny morning in beautiful Southern California? Cause no matter how many books populate Amazon, all preaching about how you can become the next Buffett, they are all disingenuous fairy tales.