Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Warren Buffett says people who lose their jobs have become 'roadkill'

Warren Buffett says people who lose their jobs have become 'roadkill'

Warren Buffett blames the fraud scandal at Wells Fargo on a case of misplaced incentives, compounded by the "huge, huge error" of ignoring whistleblowers. He was critical of himself while speaking to shareholders as he and vice chairman Charles Munger admitted they made a mistake not investing in Google early, despite his subsidiary Geico being an early user of its ad service.

"They measured the seriousness of the problem by the dimensions of the fine and they thought it signaled a less offensive practice", he said.

He said he tells managers of Berkshire business units not to get personally enmeshed in political matters, but that this did not hold true for the businesses themselves.

At the annual meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. he again pressed the argument that, in aggregate, investment professionals aren't worth their fees - and that people would be better off sticking their money in a low-priced index fund.

The chance to hear Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger field questions for more than five hours is again expected to attract more than 30,000 people to Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.

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"We do view them very differently", he said.

Buffett did lavish much praise on top insurance executive Ajit Jain, who some investors believe could be that successor, saying "nobody could possibly replace Ajit". When a protester from Germany delivered a long speech decrying Coke, sugar and capitalism itself, Buffett said he would continue to drink his favorite beverage, Cherry Coke.

But for Berkshire's executives, the one that got away, so to speak, is really Alphabet.

Buffett plans to play bridge with shareholders at Borsheims.

Buffett also helped finance 3G's merger of the Burger King and Tim Hortons chains to create Restaurant Brands International Inc.

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That could worsen if the Malloy administration lays off state employees in response to state government's chronic budget deficit. The U-6 rate for Washington through the first quarter 2017 was 10 percent compared to the national rate of 9.5 percent.

Buffett's remarks came a day after thousands of documents were released online targeting French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, before the second round of voting on Sunday.

"Massive trade should be - and is actually - enormously beneficial to both the United States and the world", he said. "I don't feel any regret about missing out on the achievements of Amazon", Munger said. "I think Apple is much more of a consumer products business".

In 2015, Berkshire made a bet that could profit from increased cyber breaches.

At the start of the annual meeting Saturday, Buffett called out the attendance of Vanguard Group founder Jack Bogle in the audience. "It shows either one of two things: Either you've gone insane or you're learning".

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