Buffett’s Berkshire Falls Most in at Least 23 Years

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. fell the most in at least 23 years, dropping for the eighth straight day since reporting a 77 percent decline in third- quarter profit.

The stock plunged $11,550, or 12 percent, to $84,000 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and has slipped 41 percent this year, compared with the 45 percent drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Berkshire, based in Omaha, Nebraska, rose in 17 of the past 20 years.

“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Berkshire, what’s really happening is people are wondering if there’s something fundamentally wrong with the economy, and Berkshire is in some ways a bit of a proxy for that,” said Michael Yoshikami, president of YCMNet Advisors in Walnut Creek, California, which manages $850 million including Berkshire shares.

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The Problem Was Never Liquidity, But Insolvency . . . And We Should Let Insolvent Banks Fail

The problem was never really liquidity.

Says who?

Says Anna Schwartz, co-author of the leading book on the Great Depression, and someone who actually lived through it.

The Wall Street Journal ran an interview with Schwartz last weekend:

Most people now living have never seen a credit crunch like the one we are currently enduring. Ms. Schwartz, 92 years old [but still sharp as a tack], is one of the exceptions. She’s not only old enough to remember the period from 1929 to 1933, she may know more about monetary history and banking than anyone alive. She co-authored, with Milton Friedman, “A Monetary History of the United States” (1963). It’s the definitive account of how misguided monetary policy turned the stock-market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression.

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called the 888-page “Monetary History” “the leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history.” Ms. Schwartz thinks that our central bankers and our Treasury Department are getting it wrong again.

Read moreThe Problem Was Never Liquidity, But Insolvency . . . And We Should Let Insolvent Banks Fail

A £516 trillion derivatives time-bomb

Not for nothing did US billionaire Warren Buffett call them the real ‘weapons of mass destruction’

The market is worth more than $516 trillion, (£303 trillion), roughly 10 times the value of the entire world’s output: it’s been called the “ticking time-bomb”.

It’s a market in which the lead protagonists – typically aggressive, highly educated, and now wealthy young men – have flourished in the derivatives boom. But it’s a market that is set to come to a crashing halt – the Great Unwind has begun. (Related articles)

Last week the beginning of the end started for many hedge funds with the combination of diving market values and worried investors pulling out their cash for safer climes.

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Black Friday: Run on the System

Stock markets across the world are in a state of hysteria. The tidal wave of sell-offs, which began when Henry Paulson announced the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout plan for the sinking banking system, has swelled into a global tsunami racing round the globe.

Shares fell sharply across Europe and Asia for the fifth straight day following a 679 drop on the Dow Jones.  Nearly $900 billion was wiped off the value of U.S. equities in just one trading day. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, the “fear index”, soared to a record 64.

Credit markets remain frozen. Libor, the London interbank offered rate, nudged up slightly on Thursday night, signaling even greater resistance to lending between the banks. Until there is relief in the credit markets, stocks will continue to slide. But trust has vanished. The 50 basis points rate cut that was coordinated with foreign central banks has had no effect. The market is being driven by fear and pessimism.

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Who Wants To Be CEO of a Red, White and Blue Kakistocracy*?

*Kakistocracy is government by the very worst, least principled, and most incompetent people. You will be forgiven for thinking that the word, kakistocracy, perhaps derives from the word, “caca”, itself derived from the Latin, “cacare”. In fact, kakistocracy derives from the Greek, kakos, meaning “bad”.)

Read moreWho Wants To Be CEO of a Red, White and Blue Kakistocracy*?

Buffett Says Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac `Game Is Over

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest mortgage finance companies, “don’t have any net worth,” billionaire investor Warren Buffett said.

“The game is over” as independent companies said Buffett, the 77-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in an interview on CNBC today. “They were able to borrow without any of the normal restraints. They had a blank check from the federal government.”

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Buffett sees “long, deep” U.S. recession

BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States is already in a recession and it will be longer as well as deeper than many people expect, U.S. investor Warren Buffett said in an interview published in German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.

He said the United States was “already in recession” and added: “Perhaps not in the sense that economists would define it” with two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

“But the people are already feeling the effects,” said Buffett, the world’s richest man. “It will be deeper and last longer than many think.”

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Growing Deficits Threaten Pensions

Accounting Tactics Conceal a Crisis For Public Workers

The funds that pay pension and health benefits to police officers, teachers and millions of other public employees across the country are facing a shortfall that could soon run into trillions of dollars.

But the accounting techniques used by state and local governments to balance their pension books disguise the extent of the crisis facing these retirees and the taxpayers who may ultimately be called on to pay the freight, according to a growing number of leading financial analysts.

State governments alone have reported they are already confronting a deficit of at least $750 billion to cover the cost of the retirement benefits they have promised. But that figure likely underestimates the actual shortfall because of the range of methods they use to make their calculations, including practices that have been barred in the private sector for decades.

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Derivatives Have Become the World’s Biggest Black Market

Buffett and Gross warn: $516 trillion bubble is a disaster waiting to happen

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. – “Charlie and I believe Berkshire should be a fortress of financial strength” wrote Warren Buffett. That was five years before the subprime-credit meltdown.

“We try to be alert to any sort of mega-catastrophe risk, and that posture may make us unduly appreciative about the burgeoning quantities of long-term derivatives contracts and the massive amount of uncollateralized receivables that are growing alongside. In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”

Read moreDerivatives Have Become the World’s Biggest Black Market