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Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?

 
Wasayo
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05/03/2008 05:31 PM
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Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?
Buffett Says Credit Crisis Ebbs for Wall Street Firms (Update3)

By Josh P. Hamilton and Betty Liu


May 3 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said the global credit crunch has eased for bankers and the Federal Reserve probably averted more failures by helping to rescue Bear Stearns Cos.

``THE WORST OF THE CRISIS IN WALL STREET IS OVER,'' Buffett said today on Bloomberg Television.

``IN TERMS OF PEOPLE WITH INDIVIDUAL MORTGAGES, THERE'S A LOT OF PAIN LEFT TO COME.''

Buffett was interviewed before the Omaha, Nebraska-based company's annual meeting, attended by about 31,000 people.

Buffett, the world's richest man according to Forbes magazine, said the Fed acted properly when it arranged a $2.4 billion bailout in March of New York-based Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The billionaire said he turned down the opportunity because he lacked enough capital and time to grasp the situation. More failures and wider panic may have resulted if the regulators didn't halt the run on Bear Stearns, he said.

``The worry was that there would be contagion; it was a very real worry,'' Buffett said. ``If Bear Stearns had gone, the next day, somebody else would have gone. It could've been a very, very, very chaotic situation.''

Buffett, 77, said he was contacted in March before JPMorgan, the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to buy Bear Stearns. The person calling him, whom he wouldn't identify, was ``someone responsible'' and wasn't from the Federal Reserve or the Treasury. The call lasted about half an hour, Buffett said.

Too Big for Buffett

``As I understand it, Bear Stearns had $65 billion due on Monday and I didn't have $65 billion,'' Buffett said. ``I couldn't get my mind around that situation in the required time.'' New York-based JPMorgan was the right buyer for Bear Stearns, he added.

Berkshire had about $35 billion in cash as of March 31, according to a regulatory filing yesterday.

JPMorgan agreed in mid-March to acquire Bear Stearns, once the fifth-biggest U.S. securities firm, after customers grew concerned about the company's health and pulled out their money, leaving Bear Stearns short on cash. JPMorgan, which got financial support from the Federal Reserve, raised the purchase price a week later to $10 a share from $2 to mollify Bear Stearns shareholders who said they weren't getting enough.

The 24-company KBW Bank Index has advanced 14 percent since the Bear Stearns bailout was announced in March, and the 11- company Amex Securities Broker/Dealer Index has climbed 30 percent.

Credit Losses

The world's biggest banks and investment firms have recorded more than $300 billion of losses and writedowns tied to mortgages, bonds and loans.

Berkshire's own investment in derivative contracts recovered between $500 million and $600 million of lost value since the end of March, Buffett said. Berkshire said yesterday the value of the investments had declined by $1.7 billion in the first quarter. The entire company's quarterly profit plunged 64 percent to $940 million.

Buffett is scheduled to embark on a four-city European trip this month to scout potential acquisitions, including family- owned companies. He has been investing in China, Israel and the U.K. to spur profit growth after saying that U.S. investments meeting his criteria have become scarce.

``Over time we'd like to develop more international earnings,'' Buffett said. ``If it's a $2 billion deal, fine; if it's a $20 billion dollar deal, fine.''

Buffett, who made his first non-U.S. acquisition in 2006, paying $4 billion for 80 percent of Israel-based Iscar Metalworking Cos., said he can't predict the location of the next company Berkshire will acquire.

Radar Screen

``They can come from Europe, they can come from the United States, you just never know,'' he said. ``Somebody, someplace is going to have a situation where we fit. They're going to call me; I want to make sure I'm on their radar screen.''

Buffett is looking to acquire businesses as competition forces down insurance rates in the U.S. Berkshire, which owns National Indemnity, General Re Corp. and Geico Corp., typically gets about half its profit from insurance.

Berkshire has risen about 22 percent in New York Stock Exchange composite trading during the past 12 months and gained about 4,700 percent in 20 years through Dec. 31, about six times more than the Standard & Poor's 500 Index including dividends.


[link to www.bloomberg.com]
"Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him." Prov. 30:5
Omega

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05/03/2008 05:40 PM
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Re: Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?
It's in Buffett's best interest to *talk his book*. After all, he just got spanked for around 600 million in a derivatives unwind.

And he should have known better.
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Anonymous Coward
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05/03/2008 05:42 PM
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Re: Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?
yep.... that's what he's saying.

Screw the serfs.
Matrix
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Australia
05/03/2008 05:47 PM
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Re: Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?
The bankers party is reaching its height and now its time to start planning for the clean up, and they will clean up and will be laughing all they way home! Idol1
Anonymous Coward
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05/03/2008 06:43 PM
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Re: Is Warren Buffett Saying "the rich bankers got saved" but "the poor (us) will still be getting shafted"?
Look, if the poor had more money they would just spend it on Nascar and beer. So just stfu already.