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Decoding Warren Buffett’s Economic World-View

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Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett Interview

He’s not just a myth

May business people quote Warren Buffett in their day to day operations.

It’s easy to become a little skeptical and start thinking of him as more of a fairy tale than a real investor.

But it’s not solely hype.

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, grew exponentially faster than the stock market during the same time period.

Berkshire owns so many companies outright that one can write many articles on that topic alone, and have been.

Some of those corporations could have been in the top tier all on their own.

 

The master behind the mastermind

He attributes most of his philosophy on investment to Benjamin Graham.

Many people are unaware that Graham lost money in the Depression. That might help you date him better. Talk about a reason to be more financially conservative.

He not only rebounded but also went on to influence national policy.

His efforts helped pushed through a law requiring more honest financial statements by corporations.

Graham then used those more accurate numbers to dominate Wall Street. 

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The things Buffett looks for

There is an exhaustive list of criteria that the new Zen master is purported to employ.

Still, they can be broadly categorized under a handful of headings:

  • Quality of the management
  • Intrinsic value
  • Track record
  • Understandability
  • Prospects for the future

Got that? Well, you should be done here.

Whose got the reins on this horse?

Saying to look for those things is easy, of course. What, for a start, is meant by quality of management?

It’s not his term.

But because he is seldom considerate enough to invent a whole vocabulary for his every move, the liberty has been taken.

More or less, it just means that you cannot expect success out of a firm with bad corporate officers.

All the accurate indicators in the world will not save it.

In any case, if the folks there are shady enough, they might have just forged those numbers.

As Buffett loves to point out, a respected name is built over years and demolished over one small misjudgment.

 

Shareholder Mom, Shareholder Dad, we have to talk

To put it another way, beware the company you keep.

Even so, management concerns aren’t merely limited to outright fraud.

Are the managers keeping all the money for the company?

Is there ever going to be a check for shareholders?

If your company of choice is in real trouble, is there going to be a real discussion with you about it?

 

Where have we been?

Intrinsic value is the tough one of the bunch. How can you measure the real worth of stock?

There are a lot of indicators you can use.

Most involve finding stocks where company earnings are both high and fueled by shareholder capital, not debt.

At the end of the day, the real litmus test is going to be how you feel about the company.

And a real clue to inform that is its track record.

Don’t just assume today’s fluke numbers represent a million-dollar opportunity. Precisely the reason for maintaining years of records.

Warren hasn’t invested in most new companies because his general minimum age is ten years.

 

Where are we going?

Youth is not the only thing keeping him from jumping on the tech bandwagon.

He’s not too old to see that new inventions are the future.

However, he knows not every good idea deserves investment.

Computer chips made of plasma may overtake the world in five years.

But if Buffett doesn’t know how they work, he usually leaves them be.

Ketchup companies may not be the defining symbol of the future.

But, A wise investor knows they may still have quite a future of their own. And a profitable one, too.

 

In it for the long haul

When asked when the right time to sell was, Buffett responded that the ideal situation would make it a moot point.

Preferably, you would own stock permanently.

His dictum paints a different picture than most day traders have the patience to see. In his system, it’s as valid to make money purely from dividends as from timing some perfect moment to sell.

Money is money, one way or the other.

And somehow you might find this a little more ethical. There’s something that feels like cheating when you buy part of a company for no other reason than to turn it over.

Buffett’s idea, if a little obvious, might strike you as more wholesome.

Don’t forget that there’s a real tax incentive to be had by doing that.

He certainly has a lot of paperwork to complete.

Berkshire’s income returns to the government are reported to be longer than a novel.

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Economy

STUDY: Number of Billionaires Doubles in Last Decade

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Number of Billionaires Doubles in Last Decade
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The number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s wealthiest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined last year, the charity Oxfam said Monday.

Meanwhile, unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the world’s economy each year at least $10.8 trillion than the technology industry, the Nairobi-based charity said in its “Time to Care” report.

Women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without any pay or recognition, while the world’s 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

“It is important for us to underscore that the hidden engine of the economy that we see is really the unpaid care work of women. And that needs to change,” Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, told Reuters.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam beginning Tuesday.

“Women and girls are among those who benefit least from today’s economic system,” he added.

There will be at least 119 billionaires worth about $500 billion attending Davos this year, according to Bloomberg, with the highest contingents coming from the US, India and Russia.

“The very top of the economic pyramid sees trillions of dollars of wealth in the hands of a very small group of people, predominantly men,” the Oxfam report said.

“Their wealth is already extreme, and our broken economy concentrates more and more wealth into these few hands,” it said.

To highlight the inequality, Behar cited the case of a woman called Buchu Devi in India who spends up to 17 hours a day walking almost two miles to fetch water, cooking, preparing her kids for school and working in a poorly paid job.

“And on the one hand you see the billionaires who are all assembling at Davos with their personal planes, personal jets, super rich lifestyles,” he said.

“This Buchu Devi is not one person. I in India encounter these women on a daily basis, and this is the story across the world. We need to change this, and certainly end this billionaire boom.”

Behar said that to remedy the problem, governments should make sure above all that the rich pay their taxes, which should be used to pay for amenities such as clean water, health care and better schools.

“If you just look around the world, more than 30 countries are seeing protests. People are on the street and what are they saying? That they are not to accept this inequality, they are not going to live with these kind of conditions,” he said.

Source: New York Post
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(c) 2020 2019 Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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Automobiles

Pump Prices to Edge up After Attack on Iranian General, but Long-Term Effect Unclear

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By Jeff Ostrowski, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

Motorists soon will see the effects of President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a prominent Iranian general. Whether pump prices rise a little or a lot depends on how quickly international tensions intensify.

Florida gas prices climbed an average of 7 cents a gallon in the past three days and could increase an additional 5 cents, AAA – The Auto Club Group said Monday.

The 7-cent increase was coming even before the U.S. air strike Thursday that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. That hike was a result of a rise in the price of crude oil in December.

News of the targeted killing of Soleimani sent crude oil surging nearly $2 per barrel on Friday. An increase of that magnitude typically translates to a 5-cent hike at the pump, AAA said.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil traded Monday just above $63 per barrel, the highest level since May 2019. The price of oil makes up about half the price of a gallon of gas.

“What happens in the Middle East can have a direct impact on Americans’ daily lives by influencing what they pay at the pump,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Crude prices rise when there’s a threat of war, because of concerns over how the conflict could hamper supply and demand.”

Oil analyst Tom Kloza of energy firm OPIS agreed that pump prices in Florida likely will rise about 5 cents a gallon in the coming days.

“Then I have a hunch that things are going to calm down,” Kloza said Monday. “I don’t think we’re looking at $3 gas.”

The national average pump price Sunday was $2.585, while the Florida average was $2.526, AAA said.

Kloza expects only modest increases in part because of the timing of the attack. January is always a slow month for gas consumption in the United States.

There’s also the reality that sanctions leave Iran unable to export oil. Complicating the calculus is Iraq’s response to the U.S. attack. The drone strike on Soleimani took place in Baghdad, and some Iraqi politicians considered the assault an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.

While there’s no Iranian oil supply to be disrupted by a war, Iraq is an important producer.

Trump keenly watches oil prices and realizes that a price spike might erode his support in this year’s presidential election, Kloza said.

At the same time, Kloza added, “This president has proven to be unpredictable.”

Trump’s response has been typically uneven. Delivering an official statement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Trump’s tone was measured. He said the targeted killing was designed to pre-empt Soleimani’s planned attacks on American diplomats and soldiers.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said Friday. “We did not take action to start a war.”

However, over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to threaten attacks on Iranian cultural sites.

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”

##IFRAME_1##Iran has vowed vengeance, but military experts say the nation isn’t powerful enough to wage a direct war against the U.S.

“It’s still far too early to know how much of an impact this conflict will have overall on prices at the pump,” AAA’s Jenkins said.

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Economy

Stocks Rally Despite Impeachment News

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Stocks rose on Thursday as investors looked past the news of President Donald Trump’s impeachment as well as mixed U.S. economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrials advanced 53.85 points to begin trading at 28.293.13

The S&P 500 recovered 4.93 points to 3,196.07

The NASDAQ added 19.39 points to Wednesday’s all-time record, at 8,847.12.

The S&P 500 is up nearly 7% since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September.

Cisco Systems was the best-performing Dow component, rising 1.6%. The consumer staples and real estate sectors led the S&P 500 higher, gaining 0.4% each. Micron Technology shares also contributed to Thursday’s move higher. Conagra shares surged more than 14% and were on pace for their biggest one-day gain since Oct. 16, 1989.

Micron shares climbed 3.5% on the back of strong quarterly results. The chipmaker posted earnings per share and revenue that topped analyst expectations.

On the economic data front, weekly jobless claims fell to 234,000 from 252,000 the week before. However, economists expected claims to fall to 225,000.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business conditions index fell to 0.3 in December from 10.4 in the previous month. Economists expected the index to slip to 8.

The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump became only the third president to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and will now face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury were lower, raising yields to 1.94% from Wednesday’s 1.93%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained seven cents to $61.00 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices moved forward $1.80 at $1,480.50 U.S. an ounce. Copyright © 2019 Baystreet.ca Media Corp. All rights reserved.

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