Mindy and I just got back from attending the Berkshire Hathaway (BH) meeting with a couple of friends. BH is the conglomerate famously run by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.
The meeting consists of a 30 minute movie followed by a question and answer session.
The event is quite the spectacle. Over 50,000 people travel from all over the world to attend.
Berkshire Hathaway 2023
I take a lot of notes during the meeting. Here is what I thought was interesting.
Mandatory diversification is ridiculous.-Charlie
This is great advice if you have Charlie’s investing skills and temperament. Everyone else should stick to indexing.
We are not smart, but we know where the edges of our abilities are.-Charlie
Know your circles of competence and don’t leave them.
People from MIT should not be in wealth management.-Charlie
This is something I think a lot about. Many of the best brains in the world work in fields like high-speed trading. Too bad they aren’t trying to solve nuclear fusion or Alzheimer’s instead.
I don’t understand the iPhone, but I understand consumer behavior. Many would give up their second car before they’d give up their iPhone.-Warren
A couple people asked about artificial intelligence:
AI can’t replace Ajit.-Warren
I think old fashioned intelligence works pretty well.-Charlie
I think that Warren and Charlie are underestimating AI.
Geico is taking the bull by the horns.-Ajit
Ajit was talking about GEICO embracing telematics. In the past, Warren has dismissed the technology stating that GEICO’s strategies could compete. Whoops. They are late to this bus too.
EVs are coming on big time, but there are huge capital costs and big risks.-Warren
BH will not be investing in electric vehicles any time soon.
On the state of the country
Partisanship has devolved into tribalism.
Japan has a cohesive culture and we don’t.-Buffett and Munger
Warren and Charlie are clearly concerned about the divisions in America.
Both sides are guilty. We need as much free trade as possible. Reciprocate stupidity with kindness.-Charlie
I don’t like its location and reevaluated…-Warren
Warren was referring to BH’s sale of Taiwan Semiconductor shares months after buying them. This is scary. He clearly isn’t optimistic about China and Taiwan.
Create your obituary and then reverse engineer your life.-Warren
I like this one a lot.
Your best defense is your own earning power.-Warren
I’ve known billionaires who die with no friends.-Warren
Get toxic people the hell out of your life and do it fast.-Charlie
I can’t pretend to like some of the boyfriends and girlfriends I don’t like. I just stay silent.-Charlie talking about his grandchildren’s choice of partners
The best road to happiness is to expect less because the future won’t be as good.-Charlie
Is Berkshire falling behind?
- For the longest time, Buffett dismissed telematics insisting that Geico had enough data to be competitive. Ajit acknowledged this was an error.
- Buffett and Munger dismissed AI.
- BNSF has been late to adopt precision railroading.
I can’t help but think that Berkshire is falling behind due to its failure to acknowledge and adapt to new technologies.
My biggest reason for attending the Berkshire Hathaway meeting in the past was Warren and Charlies’ optimism. This meeting had a darker tone. They spoke at length about how tribalism is dividing America. Buffett is clearly concerned about a China invasion of Taiwan. Munger came right out and said that the future won’t be as good. Oof.
Meeting aside, I like Omaha a lot. I went there as a kid often to visit relatives. Also, the Midwest is where I grew up, so I’m a bit biased.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back to another Berkshire Hathaway meeting, but I will be back to Omaha.
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