Berkshire Hathaway

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This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like...





The level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000.  There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed.  Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began.  And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower.  And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America. 

 


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CFTC Investigates The "Secret" HFT-Exchange Incentive Programs





It would appear that yesterday's announcement by NY AG Schneiderman (who appeared to find Virtu's practically flawless trading record too much to bear) has prompted further investigations into HFT shenanigans by regulators. As WSJ reports, regulators are taking aim at the relationship between high-frequency trading firms and major exchanges, examining whether the preferential treatment market operators offer the firms puts other investors at a disadvantage. The CFTC probe is focused on complicated, often opaque incentive programs that give high-volume trading firms financial benefits such as discounts on fees the exchanges charge to execute trades.

 


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More Warren Buffett Hypocrisy; Restructures Deal To Avoid $400 Million In Taxes





Warren Buffett epitomizes everything that is wrong with the global economy, and the U.S. economy specifically. He is the consummate crony capitalist, a brilliant yet conniving oligarch who intentionally plays on the gullibility of the masses to portray himself as one thing, when in reality he is something else entirely. He publicly talks about how rich people need to pay more in taxes, then turns around and pioneers new ways for his company Berkshire Hathaway to avoid hundreds of millions in taxes. He thinks that by going on television stuffing ice cream cones and hamburgers in his mouth and acting all grandfatherly that no one will notice who he is really is and the incredible hypocrisy of his actions. Buffett’s latest elaborate scheme to avoid $400 million in capital gains taxes from the disposition of a large chunk of Berkshire Hathaway’s Washington Post stake (which was acquired in the 1970s for $11 million) absolutely takes the cake.

 


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NY Attorney General Probing HFT "Fairness & Predatory Behavior": Did He Just Kill The Virtu IPO?





It seems the blatant unveiling of the HFT market's Holy Grail trading - Virtu (1 loss in 1238 days) - has raised some attention as Bloomberg reports, NY AG Eric Schneiderman has opened a broad investigation into whether U.S. stock exchanges and alternative venues provide high-frequency traders with improper advantages. As one European lawmaker noted, "the area of high-frequency trading is lacking suitable regulation," and Schneiderman warned "this new breed of predatory behavior gives a small segment of the industry an enormous advantage over all other competitors."  We wonder how this will affect Virtu's IPO given regulation is risk factor #1!

 


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Frontrunning: March 11





  • Malaysia Says Stolen Passport User Had No Links to Terror Groups (BBG)
  • Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast (Reuters)
  • Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions (Reuters)
  • Top German body calls for QE blitz to avert deflation trap in Europe (Telegraph)
  • Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash (BBG)
  • Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine (WSJ)
  • Lenovo says China strike an IBM matter, but it won't cut wages (Reuters)
  • Congress to Investigate GM Recall (WSJ)
  • New hedge funds face life or death battle for funding (FT)
  • Muni Bond Costs Hit Investors in Wallet (WSJ)
  • BOJ keeps stimulus in place, cuts view on exports in warning sign (Reuters)
  • ECB Homes In on Risky Assets as Inspectors Fan Out Across Europe  (BBG)
  • Snowden: "The Constitution was violated" (Reuters)
 


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A Respectful Disagreement With Warren Buffett





Warren Buffet sees a different America than we do. We would wager he sees a different America than untold millions of people do too. And with due respect to the kind-hearted Mr. Buffet, who is undoubtedly an accomplished and savvy investor, the man has been a major beneficiary of the greatest monetary fraud ever pulled in the history of the world.

 


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Frontrunning: March 3





  • Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea (Reuters)
  • Ukraine Sees More Russian Incursions as Standoff Worsens (BBG)
  • Ukraine Crisis Roils Global Markets (WSJ)
  • Cold War Ghosts Haunt East Europe in Moves for Crimea (BBG)
  • How Moscow Orchestrated Events in Crimea (WSJ)
  • Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine (BBG)
  • Euro-zone PMI slowed less sharply than estimated (MW)
  • Two top Microsoft execs to leave in reshuffle (Reuters)
  • Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (WSJ)
  • IQ-Boosting Drugs Aim to Help Down Syndrome Kids Learn (BBG)
 


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Futures Tread Record Territory Water Following Overnight China, Ukraine Fireworks





In addition to the already noted fireworks out of China, where the Yuan saw the biggest daily plunge since 2008 and the ongoing and very rapid newsflow out of the Ukraine, focus this morning was very much of the latest Eurozone CPI data, which despite matching previous low levels, came in above expectations and in turn resulted in an aggressive unwind of short-EUR bets as market participants were forced to re-asses the likelihood of more easing by the ECB. Still, even though the Euribor curve bear steepened and Bunds came under significant selling pressure, the EONIA forward curve remained inverted, signifying that there is still a degree of apprehension over what is unarguably very low inflation data.

 


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Frontrunning: February 21





  • RBS plans dramatic scaling back, to fire 30,000 of its 120,000 workers (FT)
  • Zuckerberg’s Data Stance Faces Privacy Backlash in Europe (BBG)
  • WhatsApp Shows How Phone Carriers Lost Out on $33 Billion (BBG)
  • Markets flooded with cash, should Fed prep to stamp out risk? (Reuters)
  • Venezuela threatens to expel CNN over protest coverage (BBC)
  • Firm Stops Giving High-Speed Traders Direct Access to Releases (WSJ)
  • Obama Budget to Delete Proposal to Limit Social Security (BBG)
  • Energy Holdings Prepares for a Breakup (WSJ)
  • EU Struggles to Streamline Bank-Failure Plan for Weekends (BBG)
  • Madoff said JPMorgan executives knew of his fraud (Reuters), and JPM admitted as much when it settled with the DOJ
 


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Frontrunning: February 13





  • Comcast Agrees to Buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 Billion (BBG)
  • Italian leadership squabble weighs as shares halt hot run (Reuters)
  • Russia says Syria aid draft could open door to military action (Reuters)
  • China trust assets rise 46% in 2013  (WSJ), China Trust Assets Surge to $1.8 Trillion Amid Default Risks  (BBG)
  • Australian Unemployment Jumps to 10-Year High (BBG)
  • Tea Party Scorns Republicans as House Lifts Debt Ceiling (BBG)
  • Peso plunge forces Argentine soya hoarding (FT)
  • BNP Paribas Net Falls After $1.1 Billion U.S. Legal Charge (BBG)
  • Hacking Joins Curriculum as Businesses Seek Cyber Skills (BBG)
  • Android's 'Open' System Has Limits (WSJ)
  • Blackstone-Fueled Single-Family Home Boom Lifts Chicago (BBG)
 


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Why Warren Buffett Is Worried About Stocks





According to a 2001 Fortune interview, Warren Buffett believes that Market-Cap-to-GDP is "probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment." As Doug Short shows in the following charts, we suspect Warren is a little more than worried about the valuation of his portfolio (unless of course, it's different this time). Both the "Buffett Index" and the Wilshire 5000 variant suggest that today's market is at lofty valuations, now above housing-bubble peak in 2007.

 


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Housing Bubble 2.0: "More Flipping, Bigger Profits, In Less Time" With 156,862 Homes Flipped In 2013





The topic of home flipping is not new here ("Flip That House" In These Bubbling Cities, Housing Bubble 2.0 Edition: "25 Markets Where Flipping Homes Is Most Profitable", etc) - indeed that best-known flashback of the last housing bubble is easily one of the best indications just how fragile the current housing bubble truly is as investors gobble up real estate not with the intention of keeping it but merely to sell to the next greater fool, in the process setting marginal prices based purely on the availability of cheap money, money which has now been tapered by $20 billion in the past two months. However, to get the full picture on just how pervasive "house flipping" has become, we go to the source, RealtyTrac, which has just released its 2013 summary of this troubling trend.

 


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Buffett On Jamie "I Am Richer Than You" Dimon: "He Deserves To Be Paid Even More"





Just because it wasn't enough of a vote of confidence in Jamie "Dear Congress: oath I vouch under oath that it was nothing but a tempest in a teapot" Dimon that his pay rose 74% to $20 million in 2013 despite JPM's Net Income crashing as the bank had to provision for tens of billions in legal expenses (conveniently excluded from Non-GAAP earnings) - but that's ok because the Fed's pumping of $1 trillion in fake buying power meant the stock soared - here comes folksy Crony Capitalist #1, aka cuddly Uncle Warren seemingly desperate for close encounters of the rectal kind with the JPM CEO, telling the world just how underappreciated poor, poor (we use the term loosely) Jamie is and said that if he owned J.P. Morgan, "he would keep Chief Executive James Dimon at the helm and would pay him even more than he’s making now."

 


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Frontrunning: January 7





  • Yellen’s Record-Low Senate Support Reflects Fed’s Politicization (BBG)
  • Euro-Zone Inflation Rate Falls in December, even further below ECB's target (WSJ)
  • Zambia politician charged for calling president a potato (AFP)
  • Blame gold: India Savings Deposit Scam Collapse Leaves Thousands Penniless (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Raise Gold Wagers as Yamada Sees $1,000 (BBG)
  • George Osborne limits cuts options with pensions promise (FT)
  • Vietnam Raises Foreign Bank Ownership Caps to Aid System (BBG)
  • But they said buy a year ago... Goldman to JPMorgan Say Sell Emerging Markets After Slide (BBG)
  • SAC Trial Seen by Probe Convict as Latest Abusive Tactic (BBG)
 


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"Rich Will Keep Getting Richer In 2014" - In 2013, Top 300 Billionaires Added Half A Trillion In Net Worth





All the pundits who preach an economic recovery in the US always fall strangely silent when asked to share their thoughts on the following chart (taken from the St. Louis Fed), showing the annual change in real disposable income per capita in the US. What seems to stump them most is that aside from the 2012 year end aberration (due to accelerated distribution of dividends ahead of the 2013 tax hikes) is that in November the series finally posted its first Y/Y decline (-0.1%) since the Lehman collapse. But as the chart notes, the data is "per capita" and as everyone knows, under the New Normal, some "per capitas" are more equal than other "per capitas." Enter the billionaires. As Bloomberg summarizes, "The richest people on the planet got even richer in 2013, adding $524 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 300 wealthiest individuals. The aggregate net worth of the world’s top billionaires stood at $3.7 trillion at the market close on Dec. 31, according to the ranking. "The rich will keep getting richer in 2014," John Catsimatidis, the billionaire founder of real estate and energy conglomerate Red Apple Group Inc., said in a telephone interview from his New York office.

 


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