Another 17 individuals or families have joined Warren Buffett's "Giving Pledge ," including the 26-year-old co-founder and CEO of Facebook.
The news release early this morning emphasizes that Mark Zuckerberg's youth contradicts with the more familiar image of a wealthy person turning to philanthropy later in his or her life.
He's quoted as saying:
"People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done? With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts."
Zuckerberg is number 36 on the latest Forbes ranking of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated wealth of $6.9 billion as of September. The year before his wealth was estimated at $2 billion.
But, as the Wall Street Journal notes in its coverage of the new pledges, since Zuckerberg's wealth is from "his ownership state in a company that has yet to list on the stock market, much of that wealth is theoretical at this point."
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U.S. stock index futures added slightly to gains Thursday after weekly jobless claims fell more than expected.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 17,000 to 421,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That's less than the 425,00 forecasted by economists surveyed by Reuters. The four-week moving average fell by 4,000 to 427,500, near a two-year low, the Labor Department said.
In the previous week, claims were revised up to 438,000 from 436,000, the government said.
Markets have wobbled over the past several days, while investors have ditched bonds amid concerns over whether a recent tax deal in Washington would threaten financial stability, and if inflation is on the horizon.
Treasurys were hit by their worst two-day selloff since the collapse of Lehman Brothers this week, sending yields sharply higher, in the wake of an agreement between President Obama and Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for a further two years.
The rising yields were a signal of stronger economic times ahead, Dennis Gartman, founder The Gartman Letter, told CNBC.
"It's not a negative story, it's a positive story. Rates are going higher for a number of reasons, but I don't think you can discount the importance of increasing demand, increasing strength in the U.S. economy," Gartman said.
Bond yields eased off their highs in early trading Thursday, with the benchmark 10-year note yield slipping to 3.25 percent and the 30-year long bond at 4.45 percent.
European shares extended gains from the previous session with technology stocks showing the strongest rise. The Bank of England kept its monetary policy on hold, as widely expected.
Asian indexes closed mostly higher, but Chinese stocks saw sharp losses.
In other U.S. economic news, October wholesale inventories will be be released at 10 a.m., with economists expecting a rise of 0.7 percent, according to Briefing.com.
In corporate news, Morgan Stanley is planning to cut its bonus payments by up to 15 percent this year due to volatile market conditions, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.
Dell rose slightly in the premarket after news it was in "advanced discussions" to buy Compellent Technologies , a data storage solutions company. Compellent's shares fell.
Shares of Conagra fell in the premarket after the maker of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pastas and Healthy Choice meals cut its 2011 outlook after disappointing fiscal second-quarter results.
Sirius XM Radio gained after radio host Howard Stern said he was staying with the satellite radio station , although the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Lululemon Athletica soared in the premarket after reporting its profit nearly doubled in third quarter as strong sales continued for its yoga clothes. Lululemon's net income rose to $25.7 million, or 36 cents a share, in the quarter ended Oct. 31, up from $14.1 million a year ago, and more than the 25 cents a share forecasted by analysts.
And the philanthropic campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates is set to get a cash injection after another seventeen U.S. billionaires pledged at least half their fortunes to the cause. Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are among the donors.
Meanwhile, a watered-down spending bill has been approved by the House as the Democrats seek to lock in current spending levels before Republicans take control of the House in January.
On Tap This Week:
THURSDAY: Wholesale inventories, 30-year Treasury bond auction, DuPont investor day
FRIDAY: International trade, import and export prices, consumer sentiment, and Treasury budget
More From CNBC.com:
Warren Buffett likes to portray himself as the multi-billionaire cheapskate who feels great pain from every dollar bill that leaves his wallet.
But there's no sign today of that stingy public persona he sometimes exaggerates for laughs.
Buffett says in a statement from Sam Nunn and Ted Turner's Nuclear Threat Initiative that it will be a "pleasure" to write a $50 million check, fulfilling his promise to help fund an internationalnuclear fuel bank.
Back in 2006, Buffett offered the money if the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency could raise another $100 million from one or more countries around the world.
It took several years, but that goal was met and the IAEA formally voted yesterday (Friday) to create a multinational nuclear fuel bank that will serve as a reliable source of reactor fuel for nuclear power plants, so that countries won't have to make that fuel themselves.
As the Washington Post notes today, "The same centrifuges used to prepare uranium for power plants can also be used to enrich it to higher, weapons-grade levels."
That's why the U.S. and other countries are worried about Iran's efforts to make nuclear fuel, despite that country's assertions that it is only trying to make electricity.
Buffett says in the Post, "Essentially what we're saying to the world is, if you want to be in the peaceful use of nuclear power, you don't have to have those enrichment facilities."
In the NTI statement, Buffett (an advisor to the group) is quoted as saying, "The IAEA fuel bank is an investment in a safer world and an essential tool in reducing nuclear dangers. I believe that the fuel bank will help reduce the risk of enrichment proliferation globally. It will be a pleasure to write a check for funds that will help reduce global dangers.”
Buffett tells the New York Times , "I've never been $50 million lighter and felt better." He hopes the bank will at least partially put the nuclear "genie back in the bottle" because the "spread of weapons of incredible destructive capability is the No. 1 problem facing mankind."
In an interview withReuters , Buffett says he may be contributing even more money to efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction:
"Throughout my lifetime I will be interested in this subject and I will back that interest up with money... If the project sounds like a good one and has any real chance of reducing the probabilities of the terrible use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons I'm prepared to put up significant money... Something can come up that requires a million dollars or something can come up that requires a $100 million."
Calling the threat of WMDs the biggest problem facing mankind in the 21st century, Buffett said, "We really have to prevent weapons of tremendous potential harm being used by these people who have evil intentions ... this is not a problem that we can wish away."
CNBC premieres The Billionaires' Road Trip tonight \(Tuesday\) at 9p ET. Becky Quick hosts this all-access look as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates lead a Berkshire Hathaway delegation on a tour of China last September.
The group visited some of Berkshire's investments in that country. Buffett and Gates also met with many of China's "super-rich" to explore philanthropy in China.
Here are some preview clips as they aired this morning on CNBC's Squawk Box .
For those of you who slept in or otherwise missed Warren Buffett on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour Sunday morning, here are some links to the interview. (Amanpour also spoke with Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.)
The conversation focuses on Buffett's "Giving Pledge" but also touched on his long-standing argument that the super-rich should be paying more in taxes. It's been getting some extra attention lately as Congress debateswhether and how to extend the Bush tax cuts.
ABC has posted a video of the complete 47-minute program .
Shorter clips are included in a text story headlined "Billionaires Giving Back " on the ABC News site.
There is also a "web extra" video clip in which Buffett walks and talks with Amanpour, explaining why he thinks it is important, and profitable, to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
After Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times restating his belief that the intervention of the government was a success, and in published reports reiterated his view that taxes should be raised on the affluent, critics howled. Many commentators labeled Buffett out of touch and conflicted in his perspective.
I suspect the criticism will continue.
It is my view that anti-Buffett rhetoric is really a smokescreen for critics protesting the interventionist activities of the Bush and Obama administrations when financial markets froze in 2008.
True, Buffett had much to lose if the United States economy had collapsed. But seriously, isn't this the the case for all of us?
For many years, I’ve been a fan of Warren Buffett’s long term approach to value investing. Understanding the value of a company, regardless of its momentary stock price, is a great long term investing strategy.
But it pains me whenever I read commentary from Buffett that glosses over reality or is somehow self-serving. His OpEd in the NYT – Pretty Good for Government Work – paints an artificially rosy picture of the Bailout, ignores the negatives, and omits his own financial interest in government actions.
What might he have written if Sir Warren was dosed with some sodium pentothal before he sat down to pen that “Thank you” letter? It might have gone something like this:
I was about to send you a thank you note for bailing out the economy . . . but then some nice men dressed in Ninja outfits came in and shot me full of truth serum. That led me to make one more set of edits to my letter thanking you for saving the economy.
Warren Buffett will receive the nation's highest civilian honor at a White House ceremony early next year. President Obama named Buffett today as one of 15 recipients of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
According to a White House news release this afternoon, the Medal of Freedom is "presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
The release calls Buffett an "American investor, industrialist, and philanthropist" who is often referred to as "legendary."
It notes that Buffett has pledged to give 99 percent of his net worth to philanthropic endeavors and cites his co-founding (with Bill Gates) of The Giving Pledge, "an organization that encourages wealthy Americans to devote at least 50 percent of their net worth to philanthropy."
Among the other recipients: President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Congressman John Lewis, and Baseball Hall of Famer Stan "The Man" Musial.
Warren Buffett has written a 'Thank You' note to 'Uncle Sam' for preventing a catastrophic economic meltdown in September of 2008, but he's not as enthusiastic about what the Federal Reserve is doing right now to boost the economy.
In a live telephone interview on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning following up on his New York Times op-ed , Buffett essentially warned that the Fed's $600 billion quantitative easing program probably won't help the economy very much, but could undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar.
In any case, he says, the government is already doing a lot to stimulate the economy simply by spending more than it takes in as revenue.
The US economy is in for an extended period of slow growth, but it would be worse if policy makers had not acted aggressively in September 2008, investor Warren Buffett told CNBC.