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Warren Buffett led Berkshire’s 2024 Annual Meeting, addressing US debt, market views, and AI concerns. Highlights included Buffett’s investment principles, Berkshire’s capital allocation plans, and lessons on leadership and success.

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Warren Buffett, Chairperson of Berkshire Hathaway

It was business as usual at the Berkshire Annual Meeting 2024. In the absence of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett fielded questions from shareholders along with Greg Abel and Ajit Jain. From how the transition was progressing at Berkshire Hathaway to Buffett’s views on the stock market, the US dollar, his decision to cut stake in Apple, how keen Berkshire was to invest outside America, and the oft-repeated question on what if he started out with a million-dollar corpus today, Buffett took on whatever came his way, sometimes answering without answering in his characteristic playful style. Here are the key takeaways:

1)      US debt and inflation: Buffett said he wasn’t as worried about the quantity of national debt as much as the US fiscal deficit. “It won’t be the quantity of the national debt. There isn’t any alternative to the dollar as a reserve currency,” he said. The focus is on the Fed, but the fiscal deficit should be the focus, he said. Powell doesn’t control fiscal policy, but that is where the trouble will be. “Jerome Powell is not only a great human being but a very wise man. But he doesn’t control fiscal policy. Every now and then, he sends out a disguised plea, saying please pay attention to this,” he concluded. He said, he was worried about inflation being let loose in a way that would threaten the whole world’s economic situation.

2)      Investing 101: Buffett reiterated some of his core investment tenets, the importance of avoiding mistakes, avoiding what is too hard to understand etc. “Sometimes, we’ve done things that were big mistakes. But we never get close to fatal mistakes. And “every now and then,” he said, they did something that “really works.” Referring to Berkshire’s accumulated earnings of $571 billion, Buffett said, “This does show what can be done — really, without any miracles — if you save money over time.” We missed a lot of things, and what we really regretted was missing something that turned out to be very big; we never worried about something that we didn’t understand.” Buffett also alluded to how quick decision-making gave Berkshire the edge. “Charlie and I made decisions extremely fast, but (after) years of thinking about the parameters that would enable us to make a quick decision.” Buffett also said he would not attempt to predict the market while deploying capital.

3)      Current market view: On whether the current valuation of S&P 500 was justified, Buffett said, “This is not the time when the phone is ringing off.” He said there have been times when he has been awash with opportunities that he could have invested everything by nightfall, and other times when the year goes by without seeing anything that makes the needle move. Sometimes, he said, he and Greg Abel look at acquisitions themselves where they think the managers don’t necessarily have the same equations in mind.

4)      Investing in India: Fielding a question regarding the rise in India markets and if Berkshire and would invest in India, Buffett said there may be a unexplored, unattended opportunity but the question is whether BRK has some kind of advantage compared to people who get paid for assets managed and who make money on how they buy rather than what they buy.

One thought on “Warren Buffett on US debt, inflation, current markets, India, global investing, AI and more at Berkshire Annual Meeting 2024”
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