14 May, 2017
Berkshire held its annual shareholders meeting this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska.
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and chief executive, said here Saturday that free trade is beneficial to Americans, but the government should also make policies to take care of displaced workers who are impacted by globalization.
"If there's a major problem, the CEO will get wind of it".
Yet Buffett and Munger stood by Wells Fargo and other Berkshire investments, including United Airlines and Coca-Cola.
"It's a lot of people with a lot of buying power", he said.
Ranged against them are sceptics such as the billionaire ex-mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who see the decline as more due to automation and the shift to more easily accessible fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.
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"They've been very good about severance pay and all of that, but they have followed the standard capitalist formula, market system formula, of trying to do business with fewer people", Buffett said.
Berkshire bought 81 million shares of IBM but just sold off one-third of them - Buffett said the company hasn't performed as well as he'd expected.
Buffett also criticized Wells Fargo's leadership Saturday for lackluster handling of a firm-wide sales scandal that affected thousands of customers across the U.S. "In Buffett's annual letter in 2015, he gloated that 98% of shares voted were against the proposal, a result he interpreted as, "'Don't send us a dividend but instead reinvest all of the earnings, '" adding, "To have our fellow owners-large and small-be so in sync with our managerial philosophy is both remarkable and rewarding".
Buffet also said that people should remain invested in strong businesses and that it was easier to invest in 1950 than today as there was less competition.
Buffett said his federal income taxes would have gone down 17 percent a year ago if the GOP bill was in effect.
Berkshire Hathaway shareholder Barb Whitelock of Omaha stands in line to buy a commemorative Coca Cola can made for the Chinese market that features the likeness of Warren Buffett, at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., May 5, 2017. In the past year alone, almost all of Buffett's stocks are up, particularly Apple (aapl), which now happens to be the world's top-paying dividend stock in terms of dollars paid out.