> Warren Buffett Blog

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Newspaper business is in trouble

I still love newspapers. You’re talking to the last guy in the world. Someday you’ll come out and interview me, and you’ll see a guy with a landline phone, reading a print newspaper. [But]  newspapers are going to go downhill.

Most newspapers, the transition to the internet so far hasn’t worked in digital. The revenues don’t come in. There are a couple of exceptions for national newspapers -- The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are in a different category. That doesn’t mean it necessarily works brilliantly for them, but they are a different business than a local newspaper. But local newspapers continue to decline at a very significant rate. And even with the economy improving, circulation goes down, advertising goes down, and it goes down in prosperous cities, it goes down in areas that are having urban troubles, it goes down in small towns – that’s what amazes me. A town of 10 or 20,000, where there’s no local TV station obviously, and really there’s nothing on the internet that tells you what’s going on in a town like that, but the circulation just goes down every month. And when circulation goes down, advertising is gonna go down, and what used to be a virtuous circle turns into a vicious circle.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I am more optimistic of human nature than before

On the Giving Pledge where Buffett with Bill Gates persuaded billionaires to give away half of their fortunes to charity

I would say it’s been far more successful than I originally expected. I hoped we’d get about 50 people [so far, there are more than 155 pledgers]. I’ve called lots and lots of people, most of whom we didn’t know prior, and we’ve asked a lot of people to pledge half or more of their net worth, and I’ve been surprised by how many we’ve gotten. There are now pledgers in 17 countries. I never envisioned it would go beyond the US. I’ve met some terrific people and overall it’s made me feel very good about human nature.

“Now, some say they couldn’t possibly give half of a billion dollars away and, as I’ve mentioned a couple times, I think I’m going to write a book on how to live on half a billion dollars! I feel they need all the help they could get if they get down to a half-billion [and consider that distressing]! But overall I feel better about human nature than I did before.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Innovation and Productivity gains will continue to make America great

There’s two things that make it better: innovation and productivity, which are interlocked in certain ways. When you think of it, all of the products that you and I are using to make our lives better weren’t even around 30 years ago. It’s pretty extraordinary. 

And if you go back 100 years, every time I get in the dental chair, I think to myself, if this was 100 years ago, they’d be pouring whiskey down me and holding my arms. Now, I sit there and daydream about other stuff. So anything that improves experiences – what people want to do with the 24 hours in the day that they have. And secondly, what really counts is gains in productivity. If you go back 100 years … the farms around where I live here were producing 30 bushels of corn per acre. Now they’re producing 160 bushels of corn per acre. Well, that’s dramatic, and of course they take less people to do it as well, so, just up and down the line, you look at how many man-hours it takes to produce an auto now compared to 50 years ago. So, productivity – that’s the way the human race improves.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Extremely proud of Dorris Buffett generosity with money and time

I’ve always said I like to give away money wholesale and she likes to give away money retail. Every individual to her is special. If she picks up a little kid who has dental problems, her reaction is: ‘What dentist can see that kid?’ If I pick up a kid, all I’m thinking is: ‘Who can I hand him off to before he pees!’ I mean, she is genuinely interested in a guy who’s had his pickup truck stolen or whatever it may be. Through no fault of their own, they’ve been handed a bum deal in their life. And I empathize with those people, but I’m not going to spend my days working with them. I’m too selfish for that, and I enjoy what I do.
Warren Buffett with his sister Dorris
My dad would have admired enormously what she’s doing. He would admire her more than what I’ve done — and I do, too. She gives money of her own and takes down her net worth every year by giving money away, and she really does want to die at zero. And on top of that, she gives all this time and energizes other people.

I have never done any philanthropy that has changed my way of living or my family’s, and Doris has. 

I’ve given up nothing. I mean, I gave away earlier this month $3 billion worth of stock. I made an annual distribution to a lot of foundations. That stock has no utility to me. None. It can’t make my life happier. It can’t make my physical condition better. It can’t entertain me and it can’t do anything for my children. Having those stock certificates going to someone else who can buy vaccines or maybe teach people how to use small plots of land better in Africa and open up educational opportunities allowing for women to plan their families has enormous facility to others but hasn’t taken anything away from me. No question it does a lot of good. But there are no wishes I’ve had in life that I’ve given up in order to help someone else. I’ve given away something that has no meaning.

But Doris is giving time, and time is the scarcest commodity. No matter who you are, you have 24 hours a day, and when you give time up you’re giving up something important. So if you were keeping a scorecard in life, you’d give her a higher score than me. If a person puts five or 10 dollars in the collection plate and that makes a difference whether they eat out or not, that’s giving something up. There’s nothing wrong with what I do, but if you’re judging the quality of our giving, Doris wins.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Todays children being born in the US are the luckiest ever so far

Humans have developed weapons that could wipe out all of humanity. 

Aside from the problem of weapons of mass destruction, which unfortunately is going to be with us forever, aside from that, the luckiest person born in history is the baby being born in the United States today.

It's an election year, and candidates can't stop speaking about our country's problems (which, of course, only they can solve),

As a result of this negative drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves do. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.