Speaking at Berkshire Hathaway’s first in-person annual meeting since 2019, Buffett went so far as to say the market’s turned into a “gambling parlor.”
The Oracle of Omaha also commented on inflation, building on prior remarks he has made. Buffett had previously said that inflation “swindles” equity investors, but noted Saturday that it “swindles the bond investor, too. It swindles the person who keeps their cash under their mattress. It swindles almost everybody.”
Buffett and his longtime partner, Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, fielded shareholder questions on a broad range of issues for hours.
Buffett also said that Berkshire had been increasing its stake in Activision Blizzard as part of a merger arbitrage bet that Microsoft’s proposed deal to buy the video game company will close. Additionally, Berkshire revealed it had ramped up its stock bets by more than $51 billion during the first quarter amid the broader market’s downturn.
“It’s so easy to overdo a good idea. … Look what happened to Robinhood from its peak to its trough. Wasn’t that pretty obvious that something like that was going to happen?” Munger said.
Buffett also stressed the importance of cash as “new forms of money” like bitcoin pop up.
“The United States government affects that this became exchangeable for lawful money in the United States,” Buffett said, displaying an image of an old $20 bill. “That’s what money is.”
Check out CNBC’s full recap below for more from the two investing legends.
- Buffett says people are becoming more tribal
- Buffett says inflation ‘swindles almost everybody’
- Munger says ‘just say no’ to putting bitcoin in your retirement account
- Munger says Robinhood is ‘unraveling’
- Berkshire bought more than $51 billion of stocks during Q1′s market rout
19 HOURS AGO
Berkshire’s business meeting concludes with shareholder votes
Berkshire’s formal business meeting followed nearly five hours of Q&A with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Shareholders voted on a number of proposals at the meeting.
The proposal that garnered most attention was from the non-profit National Legal and Policy Center. It calls for the company to strip Buffett of his chairman role. Shareholders voted down the proposal backed by CALPERS, the largest U.S. public pension fund.
Brunel Pension requested the board of Berkshire to publish an annual assessment addressing how the company manages physical and transitional climate-related risks. The number of votes against the motion outnumbered the ones for it.
One shareholder also took issue with Berkshire’s climate change initiative. The proposal called for Berkshire to issue a report addressing if and how it intends to measure, disclose, and reduce the GHG emissions associated in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal, requiring net zero emissions. Shareholders voted it down.
The last proposal asked Berkshire to report to shareholders on the outcomes of their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by publishing quantitative data on workforce composition and recruitment, retention, and promotion rates of employees by gender, race, and ethnicity. The motion also failed.
“If you said… for a 1% interest in all the farmland in the United States, pay our group $25 billion, I’ll write you a check this afternoon,” Buffett said. ”[For] $25 billion I now own 1% of the farmland. [If] you offer me 1% of all the apartment houses in the country and you want another $25 billion, I’ll write you a check, it’s very simple. Now if you told me you own all of the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25 I wouldn’t take it because what would I do with it? I’d have to sell it back to you one way or another. It isn’t going to do anything. The apartments are going to produce rent and the farms are going to produce food.”
Investors for years have been puzzled over how to value bitcoin in part because of its potential to serve different functions. In Western markets it has been established as an investment asset, particularly in the past year as rates and inflation have been on the rise. In other markets, people still see enormous potential for its use as digital cash.
“Assets, to have value, have to deliver something to somebody. And there’s only one currency that’s accepted. You can come up with all kinds of things — we can put up Berkshire coins… but in the end, this is money,” he said, holding up a $20 bill. “And there’s no reason in the world why the United States government… is going to let Berkshire money replace theirs.”
Both Buffett and Charlie Munger have made hostile comments toward bitcoin in the past. Most famously, Buffett said bitcoin is “probably rat poison squared.” Munger doubled down on that sentiment Saturday.
“In my life, I try and avoid things that are stupid and evil and make me look bad in comparison to somebody else – and bitcoin does all three,” Munger said. “In the first place, it’s stupid because it’s still likely to go to zero. It’s evil because it undermines the Federal Reserve System… and third, it makes us look foolish compared to the Communist leader in China. He was smart enough to ban bitcoin in China.”Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.