Warren Buffett

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Frontrunning: January 24





  • When the cash runs out: Nokia to Omit Dividend for First Time in 143 Years (BBG)
  • Passing Debt Bill, GOP Pledges End to Deficits (WSJ)
  • Japan logs record trade gap in 2012 as exports struggle (Reuters)
  • so naturally... Yen at 100 Per Dollar Endorsed by Japan Government’s Nishimura (BBG)
  • Japan rejects currency war fears (FT)
  • In Amenas attack brings global jihad home to Algeria (Reuters)
  • Investors grow cagey as Italy election nears (Reuters)
  • Mafia Victim’s Son Holds Key to Bersani Winning Key Region (BBG)
  • Bernanke Seen Pressing On With Stimulus Amid Debate on QE (BBG)
  • U.S. to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs (Reuters)
  • Red flags revealed in filings of firm linked to Caterpillar fraud (Reuters)
  • Apple Sales Gain Slowest Since ’09 as Competition Climbs (BBG)
  • Spanish Jobless Rate Hits Record After Rajoy’s First Year (BBG)
  • North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test to Derail U.S. Policies (BBG)
 
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Nebraska Governor Appoves Alternative Route Of Keystone XL Pipeline: Will Buffett/Obama Give The Green Light?





One of the more contentious issues in the past year for America's environmentalists was the (successful) blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline over fears that it would contaminate the Ohallala aquifier in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, a major source of groundwater, and an issue over which none other than the president was quite vocal just about a year ago when he killed the idea. At least that was the pre-spun, socially accepted reason (for the real one read below). It is now time to revisit the fate of this critical pipeline following today's news that the Nebraska governor has approved a new route for the pipeline, one which avoids the most sensitive area in the Sandhills. The response from the opponents has not been late in coming: "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. And now it will be up to Obama, whose second inauguration speech had a dedicated segment to clean energy, to kill or let it go through. Since the decision will once again be about politics, the outcome is all but certain, but at least it will provide yet another theatrical sideshow to add to all the others emanating from DC these days. After all it is all about distraction.

 
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Art Cashin On (Warren Buffet's) "Handcuff Volunteer-ism"





We already posted Howard Marks' most recent letter in its entirety previously, but it bears reposting a section from Art Cashin's daily letter which focuses on one segment of Marks' thoughts, which is especially relevant in light of today's most recent comment from one Warren Buffett - a person who very directly benefited from the government/Fed's bailout of the banking sector in 2008 - who said that "Bank Risk No Longer Threatens U.S. Economy." The same banks, incidentally, who are TBerTFer than ever. An objective assessment or merely yet another example of the "handcuff volunteerism" (not to mention crony hubris) Marks touches on? Readers can decide on their own.

 
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Frontrunning: January 10





  • Obama Picking Lew for Treasury Fuels Fight on Budget (BBG)
  • Deutsche Bank Bank Made Huge Bet, and Profit, on Libor (WSJ)
  • Spain Beats Maximum Target in First 2013 Debt Sale (BBG) - In other news, the social security fund is now running on negative?
  • "Icahn is also believed to have taken a long position in Herbalife" (NYPost) - HLF +5% premarket
  • Lew-for-Geithner Switch Closes Era of Tight Fed-Treasury Ties (BBG)
  • Turkey Beating Norway as Biggest Regional Oil Driller (BBG)
  • Greek State Firms are Facing Closure (WSJ)
  • Draghi Spared as Confidence Swing Quells Rate-Cut Talk (BBG)
  • China’s Yuan Loans Trail Estimates (BBG)
  • SEC enforcement chief steps down (WSJ)
  • CFPB releases new mortgage rules in bid to reduce risky lending (WaPo)
  • Japan Bond Investors Expect Extra Sales From February (BBG)
 
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Comrade Depardieu: France's Most Famous Millionaire Expat Granted Russian Citizenship





Thirty years ago, the USSR was better known as the "Evil Empire." Fast forward to today, when its successor Russia, is apparently the "Tax Free Empire", and less socialist than France, at least to infamous millionaire expatriate Gerard Depardieu, who as reported previously has paid €145 million in taxes over 45 years, and who demonstratively decided to give up his French passport in the wake of France's socialist 75% millionaire tax (subsequently ruled unconstitutional), and as of today, has just been granted Russian citizenship.

 
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Frontrunning: January 3





  • Obama Signs Bill Enacting Budget Deal to Avert Most Tax Hikes (BBG)
  • GOP Leaders Take Political Risk With Deal (WSJ)
  • Basel Becomes Babel as Conflicting Rules Undermine Safety (BBG)
  • Portugal Faces Divisions Over Austerity Measures (WSJ)
  • The Fiscal Cliff Deal and the Damage Done (BBG)
  • Cliff deal threatens second term agenda (FT)
  • Deposits stable in euro zone periphery in November (Reuters)
  • Fresh Budget Fights Brewing (WSJ)
  • China Poised for 2013 Rebound as Debt Risks Rise for Xi (BBG)
  • Who's Afraid of Italian Elections?  (WSJ)
  • China services growth adds to economic revival hopes (Reuters)
  • Asian Economies Show Signs of Strength (WSJ)
  • Japan’s Aso Targets Myanmar Markets Amid China Rivalry (Bloomberg)
 
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Friday Humor: Top Ten Reasons Why Fiat Currency Is Superior To Gold





In the spirit of the holidays and hope for a more prosperous 2013, we thought readers might appreciate a little humor to partially offset the relentless 'cliff' doom and gloom. So please, don’t take this too seriously. But if you happen to stumble across a ‘paperbug’ or two over the holidays, perhaps you could share some of the points made here. Humor sometimes helps people realize just how hopelessly misguided they are... Quantitative easing changes nothing. Remember, the PhDs are in charge of our economies and they know exactly how much our money should be worth. Those of us concerned that our money might lose purchasing power are just being paranoid. Choice is dangerous. Think Adam and Eve and you’ll get my point. Those arguing in favour of monetary freedom, of choice in money, of repealing legal tender laws, they’re just like that nasty snake Lillith in the Garden of Eden, the source of all trouble I tell you. ‘Tis the season to borrow and spend folks, as indeed it has been since 1971.

 
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2012 Year In Review - Free Markets, Rule of Law, And Other Urban Legends





Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).

 
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Guest Post: On Jamie





Warren Buffett is one of America’s biggest bailout beneficiaries, having profited hugely from buying into firms whose assets were subsequently bailed out. Shortly after the crisis began in 2008, Warren Buffett loaned money to, and bought options from, Goldman Sachs, seemingly with the knowledge the bailout of AIG — a counterparty to which Goldman had massive, massive exposure — would take place. Dimon as Treasury Secretary would intend more of the same. Dimon and Buffett and others like them believe in having their cake and eating it. Buffett and Dimon surely have in mind more cronyism, bailouts and free lunches, but the reality of the next four years and beyond may be very different indeed.

 

 
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Guest Post: A Few Thoughts On Gold, Part 1 – Gold As An Investment





It must be pointed out that gold is certainly no longer the bargain it was at the lows over a decade ago (at which time Warren Buffett undoubtedly hated it just as much as today). This is by no means akin to saying that there is no longer a bull market in force though. What seems however extremely unlikely to us is that the long term bull market is anywhere near to being over. After all, the people in charge of  fiscal and monetary policy all over the globe are applying their 'tried and true' recipe to the perceived economic ills of the world in ever bigger gobs of 'more of the same'. Until that changes – and we feel pretty sure that the only thing that can usher in profound change on that score is a crisis of such proportions that the ability of said authorities to keep things under control by employing this recipe is simply overwhelmed – there is no reason not to hold gold in order to insure oneself against their depredations.

 

 
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Gerard Depardieu Is Latest Refugee From French Millionaire Tax; Escapes To Belgium





Three months ago many were angry and surprised (or not at all, as realistically this was a perfectly logical move), when Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH and the richest man in socialist France, decided he had had enough, and would move to Belgium to avoid Hollande's punitive taxes on France's wealthiest. The indignant media's mocking response in France was fast and furious, with many delighted to see the billionaire leave. We wonder how the media will respond as more and more wealthy Frenchmen decide, now that the seal has been broken, to do just that and leave France to its grassroots movement where it is only "fair" that those who have more income and/or wealth, pay more than everyone else to keep the myth of the ponzi scheme formerly known as the welfare state alive and well. Such as one of France's most popular actors, Gerard Depardieu, who is the latest high profile departure to leave his native country and go to Belgium to avoid the second coming of the "fairness doctrine" (the first one of course, doing less than spectacularly with that whole USSR thing).

 
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The Buffett Tax Explained Using A Hippopotamus And An Oxpecker





When Warren Buffett claimed that a lot of secretaries pay higher tax rates than the super-wealthy, JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest wanted to take a closer look, and sure enough Buffett’s assertion is only the case in a minority of situations (like his own). We would therefore not expect to see large revenue estimates from an analysis of the fiscal impact of the proposals in the Fair-Share Act of 2012, since there are not that many people that would be impacted by a minimum 30% effective tax rate. Sure enough, the incremental revenue raised by the Fair-Share Tax Act is around $8 billion per year. This is real money and may be sound public policy, but in the context of a $1 trillion budget deficit expected for FY2013, it’s a rounding error. To convey this zoologically, we show two animals whose volume is proportionally the same (125 to 1): a hippopotamus, and its symbiotic companion, the yellow-billed oxpecker. We would like to think that elected officials and political commentators would avoid grandstanding and not mislead anyone on the fiscal impact of their proposals, but right now, there are some people who need help distinguishing between birds and hippos.

 
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Is JPMorgan About To Take Over America, Again?





Great and wondrous things seem to be afoot among the righteous bankers of the world. A few months ago Matt Zames was named to get JPMorgan's CIO office out of trouble - and also happens to be the Chairman of the all-powerful Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee. Just yesterday, Mark Carney completed Europe's full-house of ex-Goldman Sachs alum running the region's monetary policy. Today we hear Lloyd Blankfein will be sidling up to Obama tomorrow. And now this; from the never-crony-capitalist himself, billionaire Warren Buffett has publicly blessed Jamie "apart from the failure of control" Dimon as the best man for the top job at the Treasury. "If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job," Buffett added (sounding more like the 'we' meant he) and dismissed the London-Whale "failure of control" with sometimes "people go off the reservation." With Zames running the Shadow Treasury and Dimon running the Real Treasury, is it any wonder that inquiring minds are asking who really runs America (and for whom)? Of course, in the pre-Fed era - over 100 years ago, JPMorgan Sr. 'bailed-out' America before...

 
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