Well its that time of the year where the oracle of Omaha comes out with his annual letter, so here’s the link to it
Anything interesting in it? I’m still going through it but already on page 4 there are these nuggets of gold
- Some years, the gains in underlying earning power we achieve will be minor; very occasionally, the cash register will ring loud. Charlie and I have no magic plan to add earnings except to dream big and to be prepared mentally and financially to act fast when opportunities present themselves. Every decade or so, dark clouds will fill the economic skies, and they will briefly rain gold. When downpours of that sort occur, it’s
imperative that we rush outdoors carrying washtubs, not teaspoons. And that we will do.
- I made one particularly egregious error, acquiring Dexter Shoe for $434 million in 1993. Dexter’s value promptly went to zero. The story gets worse: I used stock for the purchase, giving the sellers 25,203 shares of Berkshire that at yearend 2016 were worth more than $6 billion
- It was, nevertheless, a terrible mistake on my part to issue 272,200 shares of
Berkshire in buying General Re, an act that increased our outstanding shares by a whopping 21.8%. My error caused Berkshire shareholders to give far more than they received (a practice that – despite the Biblical endorsement – is far from blessed when you are buying businesses)
In reality I could just copy and paste every page…
Now for Byron Wein…
I am hoping that an increase in growth to the 3% level also results in an improvement in productivity, a problem in the current recovery. Productivity has only increased at a .5% annual rate and we really need 1% to expand profits and see a rise in our standard of living. Faster growth is conducive to higher levels of productivity because companies are slow to hire workers to meet the increased demand. I know there are many critics of the way we measure productivity but I believe the data is reasonably accurate. We have seen few innovations that have improved output in the last decade.
The deficit would still be below 5% of GDP, which is a manageable number. I believe we would need to see rates above 3% on the 10-year Treasury for the cost of borrowing to become a problem and we are below that level now.