“LETTER TO BERKSHIRE SHAREHOLDERS: FIRST DRAFT” (SHORT STORY)

Let them eat credit default swaps.

Warren Buffett’s partner is in a crotchety mood.

He’s fed up with ordinary people thinking they can get rich off the sweat of others. Who do they think they are? Hedge fund managers?

“Letter to Berkshire Shareholders (First Draft)” is a businesslike corporate story. Think of it as a moral bailout.

Can Warren Buffett make the truth more palatable?

Rated PG-13 / 2,000 words / 8 minutes of adroit reading pleasure

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‘If you have a 150 I.Q., sell 30 points to someone else. You need to be smart, but not a genius.’ Warren Buffett

STEFANO BOSCUTTI

LETTER TO BERKSHIRE SHAREHOLDERS: FIRST DRAFT

Copyright 2010 Stefano Boscutti
All Rights Reserved ISBN 9780980712506

To the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Our gain in net worth during the last fiscal year was, say, $21 billion. (Give or take a few billion. Let me know what you want the final figure to be. Same goes for the increased per-share book value of both our Class A and Class B stock. I suggest pushing it a touch under 20%. Float the annual compound rate a tad over 20%. Don’t forget to add an asterisk to clarify those ridiculous new reporting rules.)

Welcome the new shareholders. Really? 65,000 new hangers on? God almighty, they’ll be the death of us. Probably haven’t done a decent days work in their lives.

Put in a few words about our performance advantage having shrunk dramatically as our size has grown. It’s no joke. Dress it up some by all means. Add a sentence or two about the managers, about maximizing their talents without outlaying bonuses or other such malarky. (Our comp. committee meets Wednesday. They’ve already agreed to what you and I promised each other. As you well know, I would rather throw a viper down my shirtfront than than hire a comp. consultant.)

I think it’s important we let these freeloaders know what we don’t do.

• Avoid businesses whose futures we can’t evaluate. I don’t care how exciting Chinese desalination plants are, they’re not for us. Surely they don’t all need clean drinking water. I always sprinkle little salt with my meals. No harm has come my way.

• Never become dependent on the kindness of strangers. This is no laughing matter. We’ve got $8.5 billion tied up in Wells Fargo, the country’s largest home lender, and $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs. They shouldn’t be bitching about a little bailout of the banks. (Where did the idiots think the money was coming from? It doesn’t grow on trees, you know.)

• Never allow Berkshire to become some monolith that is overrun with committees, budget presentations and multiple layers of management. We now have 257,000 employees. Why don’t all of them have home loans with us? Don’t start whining about helping them out with their overvalued mortgages. You can’t start bailing out everyone. People in economic distress should suck it up and cope. They’re probably drinking too many Mocha Supremes anyway. Have they never heard of corn coffee?

• We make no attempt to woo Wall Street. I don’t care how much they discount their stock to get us in the door. I’ve never liked those pepperdicks and their locker room antics at all. Dick Fuld at Lehman? The man is a horse’s ass. I have a little list of those who will not be missed.

Investors (if that’s what you want to call them) who buy and sell based upon media or analyst commentary are not for us. They only have themselves to blame.

What do they expect? A handout? All those homeowners feeling sorry for themselves because they thought they could make a living off the sweat of others. Thought they could sit back and count their money.

Bailing out homeowners is like shoveling manure to people complaining that life is a little harder than it use to be. Well, suck it up and cope, buddy. Suck it up and cope. It’s not necessary to hope in order to persevere.

What’s wrong with these people. Can’t they be a little more philosophical about the vicissitudes of the market. They likely think Cicero is an Italian eatery. Damn fools, the lot of them.

They thought they could get something for nothing. They brought all this on themselves thanks to their asinine conduct. If they weren’t so uppity the banks wouldn’t have had to offer so many divergent loans and derivatives. They were buying houses on a shoestring. They made a mess of it for sure.

They broke the sacred trust that binds debtors and creditors. Their thinking was all wrong-side out. All they had to do was work hard and pay back their over-inflated borrowings. Nothing could be simpler.

Since when did God give them the right to make money by increasing the value of their assets.

The economy will be a shambles for years to come because they didn’t understand their place in the middle ranks and in the shallows. There is plenty of unpleasantness still to come.

I’d be surprised if employment bounces back with the wonderful speed it did in previous economic disappointments. Every business has rationalized itself to do more with less. It’s a bad market for easy employment. So what? Cope with competency and grace with whatever life deals you.

You might die. So what? Even a 25% death rate is not all bad news. It might be tragic but the Black Death was good for the survivors. So, I don’t think it’s a time to be discouraged.

Warren, I’ll leave you to spruce up the details on our major operating sectors, balance sheets and income account characteristics. Try and keep it a little folksy this time.

I’m off to lunch.

Charlie

P.S. Ease up on the table tennis.

P.P.S. Who in God’s good name put the damn sushi on NetJet’s menu?


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Copyright 2010 Stefano Boscutti

All Rights Reserved ISBN 9780980712506

No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing.

Stefano Boscutti acknowledges the trademark owners of various products referenced in this work. The publication or use of these trademarks is not authorised or sponsored by the trademark owner.

This is a work of fiction. While many of the characters portrayed here have counterparts in the life and times of Charlie Mungers and others, the characterisations and incidents presented are totally the products of the author’s rabid imagination. This work is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It should not be resold or given away. Thank you for your support. (Couldn’t do it without you.)

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