Warren Buffett

It's Only Fair To Tax The Wealthy, Obama Says: "They Are Society's Lottery Winners"

"when I say that, I’m not saying that because I dislike hedge fund managers, or I think they are evil, I’m saying that you’re paying a lower [tax] rate than a lot of folks who are making $300,000 a year... There’s a fairness issue involved here. And by the way, if we were able to close that loophole, I could now invest in early childhood education to make a difference. That’s where the rubber hits the road. That’s … where the question of compassion and ‘I’m my brother’s keeper’ comes into play. And if we can’t ask from society’s lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show."

5 Things To Ponder: Margin Of Safety

"The median stock in the S&P 500 is the most expensive it has even been (for as long as we have data). That's never a good sign! If your favorite valuation indicator is not at 'the highest ever', then it is likely now at 'the highest ever except 2000'. That's not good company unless you are a short seller."

Frontrunning: May 8

  • Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage resign as Tories sweep to victory (Telegraph)
  • Bonds and stocks rebound, sterling soars after UK election (Reuters)
  • Cameron Set to Return With U.K. Majority as SNP Sweeps Scotland (BBG)
  • Tory win brings marked EU exit risk (Reuters)
  • Why did Labour lose this election? It never tried to win it (Telegraph)
  • Stock Buybacks Hit New Records (WSJ)
  • Hard Money Comes Easy as Wall Street Funds Home Flippers (BBG)
  • Justice Department to Investigate Baltimore Police (WSJ)
  • Saudi Arabia mulling land operations on Yemen border (Reuters)

Ben Bernanke: On The Way From Hero To Zero?

It seems yet another hero of the recent cyclical bull market, resp. echo bubble, may be in danger of falling from grace. This has already happened to his predecessor Alan Greenspan, who has been gradually demoted from “Maestro” to “irresponsible bubble blower”. In this sense the somewhat less praise-laden verdicts that are lately emerging with respect to Ben Bernanke could be seen as an early warning sign.

Frontrunning: May 4

  • Win or lose, Cameron's political career hangs by a thread (Reuters)
  • Greece aims for deal with lenders, IMF hard on reforms: minister (Reuters)
  • Greek Jobless Legacy Adds Danger for Tsipras as Funds Dry Up (BBG)
  • U.S. Will Change Stance on Secret Phone Tracking (WSJ)
  • China April HSBC PMI shows biggest drop in factory activity in a year (Reuters)
  • Goldman Sachs in Talks to Sell Its Coal Mines (WSJ)
  • Takeover Fuel Begins to Flow as S&P 500 Bull Run Makes History (BBG)

Bank Of England Exposes US Cronyism: Questions Why Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Is Not Too Big To Fail

If you thought currency-wars were a problem, just wait until crony-wars begin. In a stunning show of disagreement among the omnipotent, The FT reports that a Freedom of Information Act request has confirmed The Bank of England wrote to US authorities seeking clarity about Berkshire’s absence from a provisional list of "systemically import" (Too Big To Fail) financial institutions (SIFIs). The US Treasury declined to comment...

Hillary Clinton Is Grooming A Former Goldman Banker To Become America's Next Treasury Secretary

Should Gary Gensler truly be Clinton's chief financial officer, and should Hillary become America's next president, then ladies and gentlemen, in the fine tradition started by Hank Paulson who nearly brought the entire wastern world to ruin, the next US Treasury Secretary will be the following fine former Goldman Sachs employee and "champion for everyday Americans."

Active Managers' Underperformance Is A One In 130,000 Years Event

Congratulations Active Managers: thanks to the Federal Reserve, also known as the Chief Risk Officer of the S&P 500, which has made any market risk a thing of the past, your underperformance relative to benchmarks over the past decade is now a 1 in 130,000 years event.

Red Flags

Mohamed El-Erian's comments this week caused a stir among the status quo-huggers, as they were clearly a valuation call on the financial markets suggesting that currently having capital invested was likely to yield substantially lower or negative return in the future. This is an extremely important concept in understanding the "real value of cash." Not unlike the rhetoric of the late 1990’s or mid-2000’s, there is no shortage of rationalizations for why such currently extraordinary valuations are reasonable and justifiable. The fact remains firmly in place, stocks are expensive. Of course, since Wall Street does not make fees on investors holding cash, maybe there is another reason they are so adamant that you remain invested all the time. 

“Facts Do Not Cease To Exist Because They Are Ignored”

Huxley’s words describe a psychological condition termed cognitive dissonance. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive dissonance is induced when a person holds two contradictory beliefs, or when a belief is incongruent with an action that the person has chosen freely to perform. Cognitive dissonance is on full display today in the financial markets. The U.S. economy has been supported for seven years by a zero interest rate policy, record fiscal deficits and unprecedented surges in the money supply. Despite all of the stimuli, the economy is slogging along well below trend. The actions taken by the Federal Reserve, federal government and governments around the world are unprecedented. In a normally functioning economy such actions would generate massive growth and inflation. Since growth has been tepid and inflation benign, there is obviously something amiss.