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Warren Buffett Watch

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  Monday, 11 Feb 2008 | 12:26 PM ET

Warren Buffett Calling CNBC's Squawk Box Tuesday on Bond Insurance Situation

Posted By: Alex Crippen

Warren Buffett will be calling into CNBC's Squawk Box tomorrow \(Tuesday, February 12\) morning during the 8am ET hour for a First on CNBC live telephone interview with Becky Quick and the rest of the Squawk team.

Buffett will be discussing the bond insurance situation.

In late December, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holding company created a new bond insurer to compete with the older insurers like Ambac and MBIA that are in danger of losing their AAA credit ratings. (Jane Wells explains why that could be big trouble in a recent Funny Business post.)

Buffett promised that his new company, Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corp., wouldn't make the same mistakes, specifically taking on too much risk and not charging enough to do so.

Berkshire Hathaway Assurance "tip-toed" into the New York market about a month ago, selling coverage on a $10 million bond issued by New York City.

A national group of state insurance regulators is working with Berkshire on a single "streamlined" application to sell bond insurance in all 50 states. With Ambac and MBIA in trouble, they want to make sure there's someone around to insure debt sold by governments in their state. Otherwise, states and cities might have trouble selling their bonds. Even if Berkshire did get a license for all 50 states, it doesn't necessarily mean it would begin writing coverage in every state right away.

Last week, Buffett said he's not interested in making an investment in another bond insurer, because Berkshire now has its own, although "we could have some kind of insurance transaction with them."

That dampened speculation that Buffett might come to the rescue of MBIA or Ambac. Buffett's top insurance executive, Ajit Jain, had told us back in January that Berkshire was talking with bond insurers about a possible partnership or purchase.

Berkshire's current price:

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Friday, 8 Feb 2008 | 11:37 AM ET

Warren Buffett Won't Get Grilled in Hartford

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett, right, chairman of Berkshire Hathawy Inc., speaks to the media while Ron Ferguson, chairman and chief executive officer of General Re, listens in New York on Friday, June 19, 1998. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying General Re for $22 billion worth of stock, adding one of the world's leading insurers of insurance companies to its portfolio. Berkshire announced Friday after the stock market closed that it would let General Re operate independently of its other insurance operations,
Adam Nadel
Warren Buffett, right, chairman of Berkshire Hathawy Inc., speaks to the media while Ron Ferguson, chairman and chief executive officer of General Re, listens in New York on Friday, June 19, 1998. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying General Re for $22 billion worth of stock, adding one of the world's leading insurers of insurance companies to its portfolio. Berkshire announced Friday after the stock market closed that it would let General Re operate independently of its other insurance operations,

Warren Buffett won't be going to Hartford, Connecticut to testify in a criminal corporate fraud trial involving former executives of Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary General Re.

Jurors are now expected to begin their deliberations next week . The defense rested its case yesterday (Thursday) after calling five witnesses over two days. None of them were named Buffett.

Four one-time Gen Re executives and one former American International Group exceutive are accused of cooking up an illegal deal to make AIG's reserves look better than they actually were.

Last December, defense attorney Reid Weingarten told CNBC's Charlie Gasparino he might call Buffett to the stand in an effort to show that he knew about the deal in question and did nothing to stop it. Prosecutors had originally listed Buffett on their witness list, anticipating that his testimony might be needed to refute defense arguments that he had approved the deal.

The 'Buffett testifies' scenario seemed unlikely to me as the trial began. In the January 9 WBW post Will Warren Buffett Get Grilled in Hartford? (I Have My Doubts) , I wrote:

Even if Weingarten can show that Buffett was aware of the deal and approved it, or at least didn't try to stop it, the government will presumably argue that Buffett was another victim of the conspirators' efforts to conceal the true, illicit nature of the transaction.

It feels like an uphill battle for the defense, and I have my doubts about whether Weingarten will go ahead and actually call Buffett to the stand for a grilling about what he knew and when he knew it.

In the end neither side called Buffett, so he won't have to make the trip to Connecticut. And I won't need to make any more predictions for awhile.

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Thursday, 7 Feb 2008 | 3:24 PM ET

Warren Buffett Makes News (and Money) in Canada

Posted By: Alex Crippen

Warren Buffett answered questions for almost 90 minutes yesterday during his appearance in Toronto to promote Business Wire's expansion into Canada .

We focused on his credit, dollar and economy comments , but he made a lot of other news as well, including a revelation to Canada's National Post newspaper that he made "several hundred million dollars" owning the Canadian dollar, then sold, and now wishes he had kept his holdings in the Loonie.

Here's a sampling:

National Post (Canada): Buffett loves that Loonie , Buffett: No economic bailout necessary (Interview with FP) ,Wit and wisdom of Omaha's sage

Globe and Mail (Toronto): Buffett sitting on his wallet

Canadian Press:Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett says U.S. dollar likely to continue to decline

CBC: Warren Buffett says recession wouldn't change way he operates

Telegraph (UK): Warren Buffett blames banks for meltdown

Reuters: Buffett - Bank woes are "poetic justice"

Bloomberg:Buffett Sees No Credit Crunch, Forecasts Lower Dollar

Dow Jones via Market Watch: Warren Buffett says U.S. dollar 'worthless' if account deficit persists

BUT WAIT! Buffett called CNBC's Becky Quick during Squawk Box to tell us he said "worth less" not "worthless." ("Worthless" did seem like an strong exaggeration for the normally cautious Buffett.) See the new WBW post Warren Buffett to CNBC: Dollar May Become "Worth Less" .. Not "Worthless" .

By the way, Buffett isn't alone in looking beyond the U.S. dollar. Turns out, 'Euros Accepted' signs are showing up in some New York City stores frequented by foreign tourists.

Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, has posted audio of the entire event .

Berkshire's current price:

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Thursday, 7 Feb 2008 | 12:54 PM ET

Warren Buffett to CNBC: Dollar May Become "Worth Less" .. Not "Worthless"

Posted By: Alex Crippen

Warren Buffett generated some headlines during his visit to Toronto yesterday. But one in particular generated some extra attention.

Dow Jones Newswires transmitted this flash yesterday afternoon:

»Read more
  Wednesday, 6 Feb 2008 | 9:37 PM ET

Warren Buffett in Toronto: Money Available and "Cheap" After Rate Cuts

Posted By: Alex Crippen

In a Toronto appearance late this afternoon, Warren Buffett said interest rate cuts by central bankers have made money more available and even inexpensive.

In response to a question referring to a 'credit crunch', Buffett said:

"I wouldn't quite call it a credit crunch. Funds are available ... Money is available, and it's really quite cheap because of the lowering of rates that has taken place. What has happened is a repricing of risk and an unavailability of what I might call 'dumb money', of which there was plenty around a year ago."

»Read more
  Wednesday, 6 Feb 2008 | 3:03 PM ET

Live Audio of Warren Buffett "Conversation" in Toronto Today

Posted By: Alex Crippen

Warren Buffett appears today (Wednesday, February 6) at 4p ET at an event in Toronto for "investor relations and corporate communications professionals" designed to draw attention to Business Wire's expansion into Canada. (Business Wire is a subsidiary of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holding company.)

While the event is not open to the general public, with the assistance of Business Wire, CNBC.com's Warren Buffett Watch plans to carry live audio of Buffett's appearance.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 5 Feb 2008 | 4:54 PM ET

Warren Buffett Heads to Toronto Tomorrow (Wednesday) as Business Wire Expands to Canada

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Warren Buffett heads to Toronto tomorrow (Wednesday, February 6) to appear at an event for "investor relations and corporate communications professionals" drawing attention to Business Wire's expansion into Canada.  It is not open to the general public. »Read more
  Tuesday, 5 Feb 2008 | 2:49 PM ET

S&P Stock Screen Uncovers "What Buffett Would Buy"

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Standard and Poor's has just released the results of its twice-a-year stock screen, designed to find Warren Buffett-style stocks. The new list features several tech stocks, including Apple, as well as a number of names from Europe and Asia.  But some key Buffett criteria aren't taken into account by the screen. »Read more
  Monday, 4 Feb 2008 | 3:27 PM ET

Burlington Northern Rallies Over 15% After Warren Buffett's Daily Buying Spree

Posted By: Alex Crippen
Shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe have soared by more than 15 percent since Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway completed a string of almost daily stock purchases in mid-January. »Read more
  Tuesday, 29 Jan 2008 | 12:15 PM ET

State Regulators Working with Berkshire Hathaway on Nationwide Bond Insurance License Application

Posted By: Alex Crippen
A group of state insurance regulators says it's working with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway on a single "streamlined" application for licenses to sell bond insurance in all 50 states.  But even if Berkshire does get all those licenses, and it probably will, that doesn't necessarily mean Warren Buffett & Co. will be actually writing bond insurance policies in every state right away. »Read more

About Buffett Watch

  • Warren Buffett is arguably America’s most-admired and most-followed investor. Buffett is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most famous and most generous philanthropists. Legions of investors - from all walks of life - follow Buffett's homespun investment philosophy: invest in what you know, invest in value. Here on CNBC.com's Warren Buffett Watch, we’ll keep you up to date on what the “Oracle of Omaha” is doing by following Buffett's trades, words and deeds.

 

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