Buffett Watch

CNBC Transcript: Warren Buffett on Occupy Wall Street and the 'Harold' Hint (Part 4)

This is part four of an unofficial transcript of Warren Buffett's three-hour long live appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning, Monday, November 14, 2011.  (Click here for part three.)

Buffett revealed that Berkshire Hathaway has bought almost $11 billion worth of IBM common stock this year.  He also said it is "not clear" that Europe has the will or ability to do "whatever is necessary" to fix its debt problems.

In this section, Buffett says the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn't have clear enough goals to spark real change and he drops a mysterious hint on what he's been buying: "Harold."

JOE: Good morning and welcome back to Squawk Box on CNBC, I'm Joe Kernen along with Andrew Ross Sorkin. Becky is back, but she's in Omaha this morning with the Oracle of Omaha.


JOE: Before we get to her and Mr. Buffett, who is going to build a—did you hear, I wasn't listening that closely but he's planning a big tomb or something that's going to employ 20,000.

ANDREW: No, he isn't. No, he isn't.

BUFFETT: Absolutely.

JOE: What? That was like a—that I didn't even see the wires pick up on that at. That is a—that's some interesting infrastructure. But—and you know what it's going to take 30 years to build, and he's going to wait until it's finished.

ANDREW: Oh, of course.

JOE: Which I like his—I like his style.

BUFFETT: Yeah, right.

JOE: I like his style. Andrew.


JOE: All right, we are on Buffett watch this morning and Becky Trip made—or Becky Quick made the trip to Omaha she joins us now with Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffet. I used to say to Welch that the last in-flight movie he saw on a commercial flight was "Sound of Music." For Buffett it wasn't even a—it must of—it wasn't even a talkie I don't think, the last one that he saw off.

BECKY: Yeah.

BUFFETT: I'm going to get even on that now in just a second.

BECKY: Whoa, he says he's going to get even with you now, Joe. Look out.

JOE: Actually, I've got—should I—are you going to lead, do you want me to? Can I ask him a question, Becky, or do you want to start?

BECKY: Yeah, go ahead, jump in.


BECKY: Go ahead jump in, Joe.

JOE: I'm going to let you get even with me, too, Warren, but...


JOE: ...I want to talk—and this is Andrew's, I mean, "Too Big To Fail," great book, and that—everybody associates that with Andrew. But I've got—I've got a—sort of a—my view has evolved and you pointed that out last week. And I have real problems with too big to fail, and I think that the Occupy Wall Street movement, they may not know exactly why they're upset but the notion that you can—I was talking about it over this weekend. If you—let's say that you're a public employee and you went to Las Vegas with tax money, and you were allowed to put as much tax money that you want on blue—on black, or red, or on blackjack. And if you lost it, the taxpayers lost it, and you didn't care, but if you made it you got to keep it. That's basically what too big to fail institutions are able to do, and to leave, you know, to leave with taxpayer money, with the profits. And I see why Occupy Wall Street is—has a problem with that, although I'm not sure that they understand it. Can we have enough regulations for these big institutions to keep them honest, Warren, or do we need to break them up?

BUFFETT: Well, I would, I would use this example what happened is that some of these—the people you refer to went to Las Vegas and they didn't go with taxpayer money, they went with shareholder money, and they were making a bunch of bets where heads they won and tails the shareholders lost. And if the shareholders lost all of their money, one of the reasons they could make those bets was because people felt the government would come in to back up those shareholders. But they were losing the shareholders money. As a matter of fact as you know on the banks, on TARP, the government will a profit. Now, they didn't—you know, it didn't have to turn out that way, but it did turn out that way. But the shareholders still lost tons of money.

JOE: Right.

BUFFETT: And I say the guy who goes to Las Vegas and loses the money should leave broke himself, and—but I don't think—it isn't that everybody got off light.

JOE: No.

BUFFETT: The owners of the bank got killed.

JOE: But you have a vested interest in too big to fail, Warren, I mean you were able to you knew—go, you were able to buy Goldman Sachs, you were able to buy GE, you were ab