Warren Buffett: Baptist and Bootlegger

How America’s favorite billionaire plays politics to make money

(Page 3 of 4)

One financial observer, Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research, claimed on the finance blog site Seeking Alpha in October 2008 that Buffett’s conduct during the financial crisis involved a “a serious conflict of interest…seriously bordering on insider trading.” But what Buffett did was entirely legal. It may have been an exercise in crony capitalism and manipulation, but he broke no law. He simply used his political connections to secure huge profits with taxpayer money.

There are two main questions to ask about Buffett’s behavior. First, why do so many people continue to heed his policy advice without considering his enormous self-interest? Second, and more important, how did our politics get so warped by deep-pocketed, heavily invested advisers?

After the bailout bill passed, Warren Buffett sat down and wrote Treasury Secretary Paulson a four-page letter proposing a larger solution to the financial crisis: a quasi-private fund backed by the U.S. government that would buy bad loans and other rapidly sinking investments. He proposed that for every $10 billion put up by the private sector, the federal government would kick in $40 billion. As Paulson put it in his memoir, “I knew, of course, that as an investor in financial institutions, including Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, Warren had a vested interest in the idea.”

The bootlegger’s interest does not necessarily mean the Baptist’s ideas are wrong. The Treasury Department considered Buffett’s proposal, but with Paulson leaving at the end of President George W. Bush’s term, it would fall to the incoming secretary, Tim Geithner, to act on it. Geithner tweaked the plan and announced the Public-Private Investment Program in March 2009. It was largely seen as a boon to banks, especially large banks with a lot of bad debt.

What did Buffett do in the six months between writing the letter and watching the adapted policy get approved? He bought more bank stock. According to Berkshire’s quarterly reports, Buffett’s firm bought 12.4 million shares of Wells Fargo during this period and another 1.5 million shares in U.S. Bancorp. When Geithner announced the Public-Private Investment Program, bank stocks rallied and Buffett’s holdings did very well. We don’t know the exact price that Buffett paid for these millions of shares because he is not legally required to list the dates he bought them. But we do know those bank stocks all jumped after Geithner unveiled his program. Wells Fargo, which was trading around $20 per share early in 2009, jumped to $30 a share in the weeks following Geithner’s announcement. U.S. Bancorp did even better: It had hit a low of $8 a share in February 2009 but vaulted to more than $20 a share by May. And of course Buffett already owned tens of millions of shares in a host of financial companies, such as American Express and M&T Bank, which also benefited.

Buffett did very well with Goldman Sachs and GE too after they received their bailout money. His net gain from General Electric as of April 2011 was $1.2 billion. His profits from the Goldman deal by then had exceeded the gains of July 2009, reaching as high as $3.7 billion. He had bet on his ability to help secure the bailout, and the bet paid off.

In the fall of 2010, Buffet wrote a “Thank You, Uncle Sam” op-ed piece in The New York Times, praising the role that the government played in stabilizing markets throughout the crisis. There was no disclaimer or disclosure of how much he personally gained from TARP or the Public-Private Investment Program. He simply endorsed both as good public policy. At the bottom of the article he was identified this way: “Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.”

With tongue in cheek, journalist Ira Stoll, the former managing editor of the New York Sun (and current columnist for reason.com), suggested the bio might have been more accurate with a bit of rewriting: “Warren Buffett, the largest crony capitalist in the world, shareholder of GE, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, M&T Bank, and American Express, as well as competitor of private equity and hedge fund firms that have been threatened with new taxes and regulations, and behind the scenes, insider adviser to most of the government officials mentioned above.”

Again, to be clear, even though Buffett was the one who proposed the public-private partnership, there is absolutely nothing illegal about lobbying for a policy while investing in the companies that stand to gain most if that policy is adopted. But consider this: Had Buffett instead pushed a private investment house to make an acquisition that would benefit certain stocks while quietly buying shares in those same stocks, he would have been vulnerable to charges of insider trading. 

Indeed, this is what his lieutenant David Sokol was accused of doing in 2010, landing him in legal hot water. Sokol, who resigned amidst insider trading accusations, apparently bought shares in Lubrizol, a chemical company, and then encouraged his employer, Berkshire Hathaway, to buy a large stake in the company, thereby driving up the price of the stock. All Buffett did differently was use the federal government instead of a private company to boost the fortunes of certain stocks. This is why crony capitalism is so perennially attractive to financiers: It’s legal, and it’s often more remunerative than the illegal private-sector version might be. Because government officials are dealing with other people’s money, they are less likely than a private firm to drive a hard bargain.

Buffett has long believed that corporate-government partnerships provide excellent investment opportunities. While he’s famous for owning Dairy Queen and other all-American private companies, two of his largest holdings are in railroads and regulated utilities. He regularly lobbies on their behalf and counts on significant public money to make them more profitable.

After the 2008 financial crisis appeared to be easing, Buffett turned his attention to championing the Obama administration’s stimulus program. When he went on television to hawk the stimulus, he was never asked what he might personally be getting out of the deal. A candid answer would have taken up many valuable minutes of airtime.

Railroad Job

In late 2009, Buffett made his largest investment ever when he decided to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF). It was not just an endorsement of the railroad industry’s financials; it was also a huge bet on the budget priorities of his friend Barack Obama. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s planned purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. represents a bet that upcoming Washington policies to improve infrastructure and combat climate change will be a boon to the freight-railroad industry. President Barack Obama has said railroad investment will be a cornerstone of his transportation policies, given the environmental benefits and improved mobility that come with taking cars and trucks off roads.”

Others in the railroad industry saw Buffett’s involvement as very helpful, precisely because he was so politically connected. “It’s a positive for the rail industry because of Buffett’s influence in Washington,” Henry Lampe, president of the short-haul railroad Chicago South Shore & South Bend, told the Journal.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • shrike||

    *fap* *fap*

  • ||

    Warren Buffett has devoted his whole life to making money that he doesn't know how to spend.

  • thibaud||

    We're all Russians now. Historians will remember our era as the Age of Oligarchy.

    Russia has Putin and his circle. Italy had Berlusconi. The Chinese have the party and the army. And we have Warren Buffett and the US Senate.

  • rather||

    Hmm, politicians use politics to make money and so does business; its a slutty party...next story: how humans use oxygen to live

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I agree in principle, but I think the point here isn't just that the rich use government, but that in this case - this idiot is specifically telling people to pay more money in taxes, while taking tax dollars to make himself richer.

    Hypocrisy and all that...

  • o3||

    and all this wailing n gnashing over a 4% diff in tax rates for teh wealthy. pretty tough to argue teh wealthy create jobs from cayman & swiss accounts.

  • anon||

    fucking loans, how do they work?

  • o3||

    show ur work water boy

  • Sevo||

    o3|2.9.12 @ 3:10PM|#
    ".......pretty tough to argue teh wealthy create jobs from cayman & swiss accounts."

    Any one as stupid as you has a tough time arguing the sun rising in the east.

  • ||

    You neglected to give a reason for your disagreement, libertarian punk.

  • o3||

    dont bother, sevo luvs em sum water carries. hell, he pays for the honor

  • UvalDuvalCuckoo||

    Well, I guess in the case of Buffett I might be in a corner b/c he doesn't spend money. But typically it's not the poor being Patek's, Porsche's, 5000 sq ft homes etc etc. All those things and the rest of the stuff the rich consume generate quite a bit of economic activity. And if I'm going to take your point seriously, why would having Cayman and Swiss accounts negate job creation? You don't typically get rich and then create jobs, you create jobs as part of getting wealthy (in a lot of cases, I fully realize there are ways to get wealthy without any job creation) Other than taking cheap shots at people who's made better economic decisions than you have, what's your point exactly?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That "four percent diff" won't fill the holes dug by Team Red and Team Blue, stOOOpid.

  • sarcasmic||

    tl;dr

  • anon||

    +1

  • Would Be Tulpa Spoofer||

    Thinking is hard. Stick to what you do well, posting T&A links.

  • sarcasmic||

    Miranda Kerr looks tasty on vacation!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvs.....Flynn.html

  • anon||

    You're starting to find the right compromise between land whale and toothpick!

  • sarcasmic||

    Honestly Kerr doesn't do much for me. Something about her face. Like she's some creepy elf who had Legolas' baby or something.

    Katharine McPhee on the other hand?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvs.....Smash.html

    Can I have seconds please?

  • anon||

    I like Uma too. She's definitely MILF material.

  • ||

    I have always loved Uma.

  • ||

    She looks like a Leprechaun in those awful pants. A hot leprechaun granted.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only problem with those pants is that they're not on my bedroom floor where they belong.

    Sheesh!

  • squarooticus||

    Thanks for putting this one up: been wanting to link to it for a while.

  • Flippantarian||

    But...but...Boobs!

  • anon||

    do want

  • rather||

    I think the new healthcare plan has treatment for your sex-change
    -are you sure?

  • Liberal||

    But...but...externalities!

  • ||

    Sorry but next to that awesome boobage link, your link fails to elicit any kind of reaction whatsoever.

  • anon||

    Best leave the links to the cleavage exposing pros, I agree.

  • rather||

    Here's one for you baby.

    BTW, pick a new handle; I'm bored

  • ||

    Hooray for boobs!

  • Flippantarian||

    I have my priorities in hand.

  • GOP CANDIDATE||

    I'm not sure accusing a guy of "running twords the fire" is such a bad knock. Thats what investors *do*. I bought BP during the gulf oil spill. Advisors I know recommended Japanese equity during the earthquake (didn't work out). Chasing after things other people are panic-selling is generally a good strategy (caveat: only if the reason for panic is overblown, short term, and you trust there's not more bad news lurking behind) Like the saying - "when there's blood in the streets: Buy Real Estate"

    I get the point he's been broadly hypocritical re: TARP... but what's he going to do, cackle with joy that he'd duped everyone, and was even filthy-richer now? I think most of his 'quastionable' tactics and political jawboning etc are largely a consequence of him being the poker player with the most chips. When he wants to use that muscle to force people to fold/bluff suckers, he will.

    basically, I think there's a tad of playa-hatin in this. (probably ever since that "tax me more"/"My secretary pays more than me!"-BS that Obama latched onto, he's become a more targetable figure of libertoid-hate)

  • GILMORE||

    Oh, poop. forgot to change the name.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Cut down on disclosing investment moves, mmmkay?

  • ||

    I get the point he's been broadly hypocritical

    Hyprocritical? How about corrupt? Mendacious? I'll just go with plain, fucking evil.

    I have no problem with investors taking advantage of adverse market conditions and profiting from them, that's normal and we need the risk takers.

    Buffet's playing poker with the house's money.

  • Flippantarian||

    But that's what makes him so darn cuddly.

  • GILMORE||

    Hyprocritical? How about corrupt? Mendacious? I'll just go with plain, fucking evil

    I think maybe you're starting with the 'evil' assumption, and working backward to find facts.

    Seriously though, I think a lot of this is overblown. shrike (shockingly) below cites a number of reasons why.

  • Bam!||

    Warren Buffett flatly stated that he made investments in Goldman specifically because the government would come in and bail everyone out.

    You don't see how that's immoral?

  • ||

    I think maybe you're starting with the 'evil' assumption, and working backward to find facts.

    Not at all.

    If wasn't such a mendacious, scheming rent seeker, he could make all the money in the world betting on bad deals and I wouldn't care. Hell, I would want to get in on the action.

    The fact that he is such a rent seeker, but yet actively projects, and is abetted by the media, a wise, honest sage and if we bitter gun clingers would only shut up and buy into his statist prescriptions we'd all be so much better off, is where he loses me.

  • ||

    shrike (shockingly) below cites a number of reasons why.

    You're presuming that shriek has credibility greater than zero and isn't being blocked as a result of his past bad faith behavior. He brays, but I don't hear a word.

  • Superfluous||

    past bad faith behavior

    How is this pertinent in an anarchist forum?
    No rules, babe. Reap what you sow.

  • tarran||

    Anarchy is not an absence of rules.

    It simply means there are no rulers.

  • Superfluous||

    Anarchy is not an absence of rules

    Yup. It's an absence of objectively defined rules (laws).

    Do your own thing, man.
    Where have I heard that before...?

  • Pity||

    Every Goddamn thread concerning finance has his lies clinging to it like a lunatic's shit on the walls of his padded cell.

  • shrike||

    So many errors.

    GE received no TARP - much less "$140 billion". They did go through the FDIC for debt backing in a technicality due to their ownership of a small bank. Obama killed that loophole.

    The Obama administration now wants to close such loopholes as it works to overhaul the financial system. The plan would reaffirm and strengthen the wall between banking and commerce, forcing companies like GE to essentially choose one or the other.

    http://www.propublica.org/arti.....ectric-628

    Wells Fargo and US Bank made no subprime loans and never wanted TARP but it cost them plenty of interest anyway.

    Goldman benefited from TARP in 2008 via Paulson - hardly a Buffett crony. Buffett's warrants would expire worthless today (as would his GE warrants).

    Buffett didn't own Bank of America until recently. TARP was repaid before he bought in last fall.

    P-PIP was a failure and did not cause bank stocks to go up in 2009. Other programs did (QE, SCAP, ARA). Buffett buying was a coincidence.

    Even if everything had melted down Buffett was liquid enough to buy more at distressed levels. To imply he was more interested in temporary gain than he was in American altruism is just nutty.

  • fuck off||

    So does fellating TEAM BLUE come naturally or did you have to work at it?

  • ||

    It's a sockpuppet. Ignore it.

  • Flippantarian||

    Are you the thread cop here? I have some complaints about the Frisbee story.

  • anon||

    FUCK! I forgot it's Thursday, and responded to rather in a previous thread.

  • ||

    That's not just for Thursdays. It's for every day.

  • ||

    It should always be Thursday. In your heart.

  • ||

    Look in your heart, NutraSweet. LOOK IN YOUR HEART.

  • ||

    All I saw was you, staring back at me and panting.

  • ||

    Well, that's what's in your heart. ME.

  • ||

    FULL IGNORE means FULL IGNORE, brah. Join our TEAM.

  • Superfluous||

    Does the Big Ignore finally start today? At what time, specifically?

  • rather||

    Ohh the Big Ignore ...you're so pathetic

  • rather||

    Ohh the Big Ignore ...you're so pathetic

  • rather||

    Even the squirrels coadjute!!!

  • rather||

    I just have one question, Warty: Who is going to crazy glue your fingers to the delete key?

  • Superfluous||

    Email SugarFree for the real lowdown.
    It's both fascinating and disturbing.

  • rather||

    yes, I have that email but now I have to get your info too...something about making it worthwhile
    -please tell me your ass isn't broke too

  • Superfluous||

    I have no info, as I am superfluous.

  • rather||

    Declarations against interest?
    Lol

  • Raston Bot||

    Didn't Wells swallow the AltA king? and didn't SNL make a skit about that?

  • shrike||

    yeah, First Wachovia bought it (Golden West) then the Alt-A shit poisoned them, they were Too Big To Fail and Wells Fargo bid near-nothing for them and won.

    Wells also got a sweetener in the Wachovia heist - about $30 billion in tax credits.

    All in 2008.

  • Raston Bot||

    GE did the Fed's CPFF when it had 200+ billion short term debt to roll over.

  • shrike||

    The US economy cannot operate without Commercial Paper. The Fed had to step in there.

    They made McDonalds payroll too. Credit was completely hosed.

  • Raston Bot||

    Wachovia paid 24-25 billion for Golden West. Wells paid 15 billion stock for Wachovia + aforementioned IRS policy change on losses from acquired financial institutions. Citi offered 2 billion for Wachovia with FDIC assistance... so they obviously need better lobbyists.

  • Bam!||

    Which bank had those commercials where they claimed they locked their bankers up in a pen and never let them interfere with business?

  • GILMORE||

    Surprisingly, most everything he says is accurate.

    Except for the 'American Altruism' bullshit.

  • Superfluous||

    The thread cops insist that you ignore him.
    Why won't you obey the thread cops?

  • GILMORE||

    I AM THE LAW

  • Superfluous||

    I thought Episiarch/Warty/SugarFree were the law. No?

    My mistake, perhaps, but they have that scent of...how do you say...authoritarianism about them...

  • Live Free or Diet||

    So many errors. GE received no TARP - much less "$140 billion". They did go through the FDIC for debt backing in a technicality due to their ownership of a small bank. Obama killed that loophole.

    Reuters disagrees: GE wins U.S. approval to exit TARP program (July 22, 2009, specifying a drawback from $126 billion in credit.

    due to their ownership of a small bank.

    Wow. GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Capital Real Estate, GE Energy Financial Services and GE Money... Which one is a small bank? In the U.S. GE Money is one of the largest issuers of private label credit cards and bank cards, auto loans, mortgages, corporate travel cards, home equity loans and credit insurance. It has over a hundred million customers in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Japan, Australia and India.

  • shrike||

    Here is an updated TARP list.

    http://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list/index

    No GE so Reuters is in error. GE was in TLGP which did not pay or loan funds. GE set up a debt offering and the FDIC approved it.

    I know GE Capital is huge. But GE accessed the FDIC through a small Utah deposit bank they owned. They gamed the system for sure but again - got no payout.

    Fox News often says GE(NBC) got TARP - its a lie.

  • ||

    so some lefty blog has better fact checkers than Reuters? Whatever Shrike.

    And if you RTFA it says GE exited TARP in 2009. Your list is for people still in it. So your list doesn't refute the first.

  • shrike||

    GE never got a penny of TARP.

    Prove it and I will never post here again.*

    *must have amount borrowed, date, and amount repaid (if any).

  • ||

    Reuters is the proof

    GE Capital will stop issuing commercial debt backed by the government as a result of the move and will gain the right to issue bonds maturing before Dec. 30, 2012 outside of the program. A spokeswoman said the move will allow GE to raise money in the bond markets more cheaply.

    The FDIC will lower its available credit limit to GE under the program to $75 billion from $126 billion. GE has issued about $12 billion in debt not backed by the government since November.

    The news comes as GE Capital’s smaller rival CIT Group Inc flirts with bankruptcy and GE management faces the threat that the Obama administration’s proposed overhaul of the U.S. financial regulatory system could force it to spin off the finance arm, which has businesses ranging from investing in commercial real estate to financing sales of heavy equipment made by its parent.

    GE has “already gotten the benefit out of the program and this indicates a sign of confidence from the company about its funding needs for next year,” said Steven Winoker, senior analyst at Bernstein Research. “Why subject yourself to the negative image of … a government program, as well as the uncertainty of whether the program will be extended?”

    GE’s hefty finance arm has been the subject of intense investor concern over the past 16 months, as it has been the heaviest drag on profits at the world’s largest maker of jet engines and electricity-producing turbines.
    Troubles at GE Capital, as well as a general downturn in demand caused by the brutal recession, contributed to the major ratings agencies’ decision to strip the blue-chip company of its top-tier “AAA” credit ratings this year.
    Even without official government backing, some investors expressed confidence that GE would retain Washington’s support if needed.
    “The market knows the U.S. government will stand behind GE and GE Capital if necessary,” said Mirko Mikelic, a portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “It removes any U.S. government oversight while keeping the implicit guarantee.”

    They got a lot of TARP. Sorry but Reuters is not lying.

  • Tman||

    Yay! Shreek will never post here again!

  • shrike||

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo...!

    *disappears in a poof of smoke*

  • Would Be Tulpa Spoofer||

    Read the rest of the article:

    “Today’s plan to exit from TLGP affirms the strength of GE Capital’s funding and liquidity position, including reduced reliance on government funding programs and our ability to access nonguaranteed debt markets,” GE Treasurer Kathryn Cassidy said in a statement.
    The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company has issued about $51 billion of long-term debt and has $17 billion in outstanding commercial paper under the TLGP program, spokeswoman Anne Eisele said.

    The headline says TARP, but TARP is not mentioned anywhere in the body of the article. It seems that the headline writer figured that TARP and TLGP are interchangeable, but they aren't the same program. Either way, GE still took government money, though.

  • shrike||

    Bloomberg should save you the time.

    GE and GE Capital didn’t participate in the better-known Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....-show.html

  • ||

    Ok Shrike they didn't do TARP but they did another program that gave them a bunch of tax money. I feel so much better now.

  • shrike||

    TLGP paid GE nothing.

  • Why did you give up, John?||

    You were right the first time.

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/.....rpinfo.htm

    Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Information

    The federal banking and thrift regulatory agencies encourage all eligible institutions to use the Treasury Department's Capital Purchase Program and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program. On October 14, 2008, the U.S. government announced a series of initiatives to strengthen market stability, improve the strength of financial institutions, and enhance market liquidity. Treasury announced a voluntary Capital Purchase Program to encourage U.S. financial institutions to build capital to increase the flow of financing to U.S. businesses and consumers and to support the U.S. economy. Under the program, Treasury will purchase up to $250 billion of senior preferred shares on standardized terms.

    Treasury's Capital Purchase Program and the FDIC's Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program complement one another. Through these programs, fresh capital and liquidity are available to foster new lending in our nation's communities.

  • Ban The Fucking Liar Already||

    http://www.sacbee.com/topstori.....56261.html

    Overall, Berkshire owns more than $13 billion of stock in the top recipients of TARP funds – including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., US Bancorp, American Express Co. and Bank of America Corp., all considered by analysts to be in deep trouble before the federal infusion. The more the bailout props up these financial companies, the more secure Berkshire's investments.

    That total, The Bee found, ranks Berkshire fifth among all investors in TARP-assisted companies. Berkshire's TARP holdings constitute 30 percent of its publicly disclosed stock portfolio. That proportion reflects at least twice as much dependence on bailed-out banks as any other large investor.

    Buffett increased his bank holdings in September, while openly pressing Congress to pass the bailout.

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/.....dman-sachs

    At a time when all the tough guys in Washington are making plans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for high-living seniors and to cut Head Start for low-income kids, it was generous of Warren Buffett to point out that we taxpayers gave over $1 billion to Goldman Sachs through TARP. Buffett probably didn't intend to point out this fact to the country, but it is an unavoidable implication of his $2 billion profit on his loans to Goldman.

    Buffett made his $5 billion loan to Goldman about a week before the Treasury lent $10 billion to Goldman through the TARP program. Buffet got 10 percent interest on his loans, while the Treasury got 5 percent on its loans. In addition, Buffett got a much more generous commitment of stock warrants, which is the basis of the $2 billion in profits that he is now set to pocket.

    The Treasury boasted of getting a $1.1 billion profit on its loans to Goldman, but as Mr. Buffet showed, this was far below the market rate of interest on loans to Goldman at the time. The difference between the return received by Buffett and the return received by the Treasury was in effect a gift from taxpayers to the top executives at Goldman and their shareholders. When Treasury Secretary Geithner and other officials claim that the government made money on the TARP loans it is either due to their ignorance of the workings of financial markets or a deliberate effort to deceive the public.

  • shrike||

    Irrelevant.

    Goldman was TOLD by Treasury Sec Paulson that they would be loaned money along with eight other banks. They were in the top three in health (JP Morgan and Wells). Then they paid a couple of billion in interest on a loan they never asked for.

  • Ban The Fucking Liar Already||

    You: Even if everything had melted down Buffett was liquid enough to buy more at distressed levels. To imply he was more interested in temporary gain than he was in American altruism is just nutty.

    Above Quote: Buffett made his $5 billion loan to Goldman about a week before the Treasury lent $10 billion to Goldman through the TARP program. Buffet got 10 percent interest on his loans, while the Treasury got 5 percent on its loans. In addition, Buffett got a much more generous commitment of stock warrants, which is the basis of the $2 billion in profits that he is now set to pocket.

    You're irrelevant, now get the fuck out of here.

  • ||

    You're not following shrike's impenetrable logic:

    a) Warren Buffet made billions exploiting political connections with Democrats.

    b) All Democrats are pure-souled altruists.

    c) Therefore, Warren Buffet is an altruist.

  • shrike||

    Also, without TARP Buffett could have picked up the pieces of AIG for pennies. Buffett's specialty is insurance and AIG was the world's largest. TARP put AIG into the US Government's basket where it partially is today.

  • Raston Bot||

    but then who would bailout AIG counterparties? too connected for capitalism.

  • Ban The Fucking Liar Already||

    http://www.businessinsurance.c...../301249978

    STAMFORD, Conn.—General Re Corp. last week agreed to pay $92.2 million and dissolve a subsidiary in Dublin to end investigations into the reinsurer's role in transactions that allegedly defrauded investors of American International Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc.

    Gen Re, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., agreed to pay $12.2 million to settle the charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Gen Re also agreed to pay the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Consumer Fraud Fund $19.5 million to settle a Justice Department investigation, and $60.5 million through settlement of a civil class action lawsuit brought by AIG shareholders, the SEC said in a statement.

    Gen Re previously forfeited to the government $5 million in fees it earned for its participation in what the government said was sham reinsurance scheme with AIG. As part of its agreement with the Justice Department, Gen Re agreed to dissolve subsidiary Cologne Re Dublin, which helped structure the deals.

    Calls placed to Gen Re seeking comment on the settlement, for which court approval is needed, were not returned.

    According to the SEC's complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Gen Re entered into two sham finite reinsurance transactions in 2000 with AIG. The transactions inflated AIG's loss reserves by $250 million in the fourth quarter of 2000 and $250 million in the first quarter of 2001, hiding a downward trend in loss reserves and premiums written, according to the SEC's investigation.

  • rather||

    onetime I taught myself how to swim but then I stopped because a toilet seat kept hitting me in the head.

  •  ||

    Oh sarcasmic, your spoofing surpasses Oscar Wilde in luminous wit.

  • rather||

    Was that also the day you were born?

    bada-bing!

  • Big Fan||

    Sarcasmic, dude! You should be, like, writing for the sitcoms!

  • Tim||

    Is there a fee I'd have to pay to set up my own Rather franchise?

  • rather||

    Tim, I really don't need a picture of your dick too -feel free

  • kinnath||

    Warren bought a piece of NetJets because his wife and mistress kept fihting over the one business jet that he owned.

  • Tim||

    OT :
    Internet selling guns to criminals:
    n fact, 34 people are murdered every day in gun violence, with many of the weapons traced back to private sales. Jitka Vesel, for example, was killed by a stalker – a Canadian man who crossed into the U.S., bought a gun online in Seattle, then shot her 11 times as she got in her car.

  • Confusius Say||

    34 people are murdered every day in gun violence

    Let's get all the guns off the streets? OK, cops first!

    "Would you feel better if they was pushed out of windows, little girl?"

    One person dies in a car accident every 13 seconds, poor guy!

    You know, if all the free people each had a gun too, the Canadian would have died instantly of perforated heart failure.

    (Too many answers!)

  • Live Free or Diet||

    How do I get one of theses violent guns? Mine just lay there and don’t do a damn thing. The assault rifles don't rifle through anything, much less assault anyone. Lazy American guns. Sigh.

  • ||

    You need one of those illegal guns that will do the violent work that those lazy American guns won't do.

  • BTW||

    It's spelled "Confucius."

  • o3||

    but soo many arent murdered due to their guns n bibles...in the burbs...mumble jumble gifford's in trouble

  • Loki||

    34 people are murdered every day in gun violence

    34 people in a country with a population of more than 300 million? We're supposed to freak out over guns because literally 1 in 10,000,000 people are killed?

  • OWS VPS||

    The phrase in the title is how openly gay New York State Senator Tom Duane characterized the New York Senate after the senate Judiciary Committee rejected the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA by a vote of 12-11.

    Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz joined all the Republican members of the committee in voting against equal rights. You may recall Diaz from his opposition last year to the marriage equality bill.

    Can't someone get rid of this guy?

    It is now yet again confirmed that the Senate is a cesspool of homophobia and transphobia.--Tom Duane

    Once again, the fear of transwomen, apparently named Bubba and weighing in at 250 pounds (description from a press release by Republican candidate for Assembly David Kimmel), using women's restrooms has been used to deny transfolk equal rights in housing, employment, credit, and public accommodations.

    The bill passed the Assembly 100-43.

  • OWS VPS||

    If this bill is enacted, how safe will our most vulnerable be? Will sexual predators be able to stalk victims by claiming they are allowed to enter the restroom because they are protected by law? Proponents of the bill say they are the ones being discriminated against, but what about the rights of the majority of New Yorkers who expect restrooms to accommodate their sex only?

    --The Conservative Party

    I have been told many times that transgender people just have to wait their turn...that we should pass protections for GLB people first and then come back for the gender-variant.

    I offer this as evidence against that strategy.

    STOP TRANSPHOBIA NOW! TEACH EQUALITY AND TOLERANCE FOR TRANSSEX, INTERSEX, AND TWO-SPIRITED PEOPLES IN SCHOOLS! STOP TRANSPHOBIA! STOP THE HATE!

  • anon||

    pretty sure nobody cares if you're a tranny dude. I'm still not sleeping with you.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Two-spirited? Will we have a Department of Multi-spirited Americans soon?

  • fish||

    Your like a gender confused version of White Idiot.... god rest his soul!

  • Loki||

    Is this a spoof? It's kind sad that I can't tell. It's the "two spirited peoples" thing that makes me think maybe it's a spoof. WTF does that even mean?

    Yep, there's definitely more than one children in there.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Transphobia"

    Great. Like we need *more* stupid fucking meaningless terminology.

  • ||

    While I am in no way a supporter of Occupy...it baffles the mind to think we would deny equal rights to a majority of individuals based on scare tactics. It's as bad as saying you shouldn't let black men in the restroom with white men, what if a small number out of millions do something in there! Listen up social conservatives, I don't want guns taken away, I want the people using them violently taken away. Transgender individuals should not be punished because someone came up with the idea that there will be sexual predators using this to their advantage. I hope that never happens and I sincerely doubt it will ever be a legitimate avenue in the first place.

    There should be no place for the type of hatred both the left and the right throw around at each other in a country like America. We should all be striving to become better people, more focused on our own success and less focused on controlling other people's actions when it DOES NOT CONCERN YOU. Two men marrying does not change your marriage, or mine for that matter. I am happily married to a member of the opposite sex, however I have the ability to understand that love between two people and a family is innately human, be it gay or straight.

    Part of the American ideal is greatness in the face of adversity and we cannot claim to moral greatness while we deprive our citizens of choice and try to legislate their personal life. Get the hell out of my private life, government.

  • ||

    [blockquote]Can't someone get rid of this guy?[/blockquote]

    Eliminationist rhetoric from an Occutard?

  • ||

    But see, it's okay if he's rich. He's loyal to the jug-eared Jesus. That makes him a good fatcat.

  • George Soros||

    Selling out to the Nazis and getting convicted for insider trading is A-OK, too, I hear.

  • o3||

    so jesus is a muslim from kenya?

    who knew?

  • ||

  • ||

    That is funny.

  • ||

    The Sin of Onan is no laughing matter, John.

  • ||

    Between this and sort of kind of hoping the Occutards have some kind of a throw down with Santorum or Gingrich at CPAC, I am so burning in hell.

  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad||

    However, the Sea of Oman is.

  • ||

    You know what creeps me out the most about Santorum? His skinny little nose. Look at it. It's absolutely tiny.

  • ||

    I think the fact that he's made of Santorum is probably creepier, dude.

  • ||

    It is easier to cover in brown that way.

  • The Ghost of Michael Jackson||

    RACIST!

  • ||

    +10...That is a keeper.

  • In other news....||

    "Huge breasted model -31- walks away from crash."

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....irbag.html

    #BOOBS

  • o3||

    u sure a santorium thread about santorium is the proper forum for boobage?...well, unless santoriumed that is

  • Loki||

    Warren Buffet: Douchebag

  • ||

    He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, in a house he purchased in 1958 for $31,000.

    Does Buffett really live in this house?

    Or, does he still just own it and actually live on an estate ranch farm somewhere else?

    Or, perhaps lives in a 5 star hotel 364 days per year, but lives in the house one night to be able to say he still lives there with a straight face?

  • ||

    He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, in a house he purchased in 1958 for $31,000.

    Does Buffett really live in this house?

    Or, does he still just own it and actually live on an estate ranch farm somewhere else?

    Or, perhaps lives in a 5 star hotel 364 days per year, but lives in the house one night to be able to say he still lives there with a straight face?

  • ||

    I thought I was so clever, I needed to make the comment twice.

  • ||

    "First, why do so many people continue to heed his policy advice without considering his enormous self-interest?"

    Dumb question. Warren Buffet is affiliated with Democrats. That is proof his intentions are noble. It proves that his self-interest is a mere coincidence. It's sort of like how Scott Brown's Wall Street donations prove he's in the pocket of the bankers, while Elizabeth Warren's Wall Street donations proves there are at least a few pure-souled altruists on Wall Street. Gosh, you libertarians ask the silliest questions!

  • ||

  • George Soros||

    Sorry, shrike's done for now. He has my cock in his ass, and Buffett's blowing another wad in his mouth.

  • Warren Buffett||

    Cool! It's coming out his nostrils!

  • buy3buy.com||

    juicy

  • ||

    You missed one of his most profitable investments of all time..and the one primarily responsible for the financial melt-down of 2008; Moody's. By rating junk-bond type Mortgage backed derivatives as AAA..they were able to get the Fed's to essentially guarantee these financial products.The guilt that Warren must feel each night when his head hits the pillow must be immense, knowing that millions of American's lost their retirement and homes due to his 'boys' going rogue and putting his and their financial best interests ahead of the country. So the thought of him pushing for higher taxes on him is tantamount to a sinner willing to tithe 10% of his/her income to the church in exchange for absolution and forgiveness. Only, America isn't in too forgiving a mood, and this BeanBag from Omaha needs to actually confess his sins rather than hide behind the President's coat-tails by parroting the plea for higher taxes.

  • ||

    I seem to remember Buffet increasing his holdings of tax free Muni bonds just before the debate started about raising high income tax rates. Is this another case of gaming the process?

  • James Hoffa||

    Now we know why Buffett is such a huge democrat. He would never be allowed to get away with this chicanery if he were a Republican or an independent

  • ||

    BNSF is making money hauling North Dakota oil to the gulf refineries. The Keystone pipeline has granted 20% of its capacity to Montana and North Dakota oil.

    Buffet benefits again from an Obama decision.

    Check this out. I have my information from contacts in the Bakken field area.

  • ||

    We're trying to demonise Uncle Warren now. Good luck with that one.

  • ||

    We should all be able to follow what Buffett practices:
    Buffett avoids the Buffett Rule
    In a 2007 CNBC interview, when asked why he shelters his money through tax-free strategies rather than writing big checks to Uncle Sam, Mr. Buffett responded: "I think that on balance the Gates Foundation, my daughter's foundation, my two sons' foundations will do a better job with lower administrative costs and better selection of beneficiaries than the government."
    So Mr. Buffett thinks he and his family can put their money to better use than the government can. I guess he's really not so different from the rest of us after all."

  • ||

    Good old Warren - "folksey". What a con artist. For many years he had a mistress while he was married. He married her when his wife died of cancer. By his own admission he was an absentee father. Great human being who only goal in life as a young boy was to be the richest man in the world(which he has failed at). Money is his score card- he does not care about anything else.

  • ||

    This can't be true, Republicans are the ones tied to Wall St and crony capitalists !

  • ||

    Interesting article. Not the first story about the dissonance between free market capitalism and cronyism, and how Warren advocates the politically popular, while knowing better.

    However, Warren was buying WFC and USB, two of the STRONGEST, most conservatively run banks that DID NOT NEED NOR WANT government dollars and concomitant regulatory 'strings', long before Obama happened along.

    Also, the infrastructure dollars vis a vis the railroads were being slanted toward passenger rail (boondoggle) construction projects. As far as BNSf is concerned, railroads make their money in freight. Passenger service just gets in their way.

    You have got to remember that it ALWAYS plays well (PC PR wise) to bash the rich, even if you are.

  • ||

    Y'all are brilliant!

  • ||

    "He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, in a house he purchased in 1958 for $31,000"

    Yeah but it is 6,300 square feet now and he also owns a beach house in California worth over 4 million.

    Boo Hoo!

  • ||

    Buffet has been handed tons of $$$$$ by 0's actions to push higher taxes. Now it is appropriate for him to voluntarily pay the same percentage as his secretary pays. Pay up or shut up

  • Navin Johnson||

    Ah, it's a profit deal! What a naive article.

  • ||

    who cares just another slime ball schemer

  • corey||

    Warren Buffet is the biggest con man of our time Attached to the Democrat party, he sings the tune of "tax the rich". "The rich need to pay their fair share". "fix the loop holes in the tax code". He's been preaching this for 10 years, and for the last 10 years he's been fighting the IRS legally over 1 Billion in back taxes. What a POS. Just look at him, he's exactly what the Democrats despise, only they are uninformed and/or in denial to see it.

  • ||

    This article is part truth, and part half-truth.

    For example, he writes: "Indeed, this is what his lieutenant David Sokol was accused of doing in 2010, landing him in legal hot water. . . . . . . All Buffett did differently was use the federal government instead of a private company to boost the fortunes of certain stocks."

    At the very least, there are two major differences:
    1. Sokol lobbied Buffett (his boss) without disclosing his personal investment. That's a clear violation of his ethical duty to his employer.
    2. Sokol purchased the stock as a private investor, and probably intended to never disclose the investment. Buffett buys stocks via Berkshire Hathaway, a public company. Therefore, every material stock decision (to buy or sell) becomes public sooner or later.

    So, without any research, I know that the author's explanation of this event is only half-true.

    I don't have the time or interest to conduct further fact checking.

    I do know that the author is biased against Buffett. I don't know why.

    I believe that half-truths (particularly from a clever source) are dangerous.

  • ||

    Buffet is a great man.More tighter the rules ,it's easier to make money.Though spending does not always find an easier path to spend.Hat's off to Buffet.

  • johnson29||

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