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Investing Warren Buffett Watch

  Monday, 23 Jan 2012 | 4:21 PM ET

Warren Buffett Offers Millions in Deficit Donations, If ...

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Warren Buffett walks with Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia) before the two men met over breakfast in Omaha on January 23, 2012 to discuss reducing the national debt.
Bloomberg.com
Warren Buffett walks with Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia) before the two men met over breakfast in Omaha on January 23, 2012 to discuss reducing the national debt.

Warren Buffett ups the ante with an offer to donate millions of dollars to help reduce the nation's deficit .. 15 percent of his annual income .. if at least 50 Capitol Hill lawmakers do the same.

Previously Buffett had offered a one-for-one match of any debt donations made by Republican members of Congress, with a three-for-one match for any money Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voluntarily sent to the Treasury.

One Republican, Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia was already donating 15 percent of his Congressional salary toward national debt reduction, and an "impressed" and "delighted" Buffett will be writing a check for just over $49,000 to match Rigell's 2011 and 2012 donations.

Today, Rep. Rigell met with Buffett for breakfast in Omaha, and the new offer came during a joint interview with Bloomberg TV .

Based on Buffett's adjusted gross income of almost $63 million last year , a 15 percent donation would come to $9.4 million.

Both Buffett and Rigell agree that donations are not going to play a significant role in eliminating the U.S. debt. Buffett tells Bloomberg , "We need policy and we need it now. The symbolism may be important. It certainly may shout out to the American public that we're going to ask a lot of you, so we're willing to be the first in line."

Buffett doesn't blame Mitt Romney for paying a tax rate of around 15 percent, pointing his finger at Congress instead. "He's not going to pay more than the law requires, and I don't fault him for that in the least. But I do fault a law that allows him and me earning enormous sums to pay overall federal taxes at a rate that’s about half what the average person in my office pays... He makes his money the same way I make my money ... he makes it shoving around money.”

Current Berkshire stock prices:

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Keep up with Warren Buffett on CNBC.com and follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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  Sunday, 22 Jan 2012 | 7:19 PM ET

Warren Buffett Sings and Plays Ukulele for Chinese New Year

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Warren Buffett plays ukulele and sings in a video clip posted on the website of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV for the lunar new year.
CNTV.cn
Warren Buffett plays ukulele and sings in a video clip posted on the website of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV for the lunar new year.

A short video clip of Warren Buffett playing the ukulele and singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is part of Chinese television's New Year celebration.

It appears on the 2012 Spring Gala website of state broadcaster CCTV. The Gala is a massive television program marking the start of the lunar new year that's watched by millions of Chinese.

A spokeswoman for the broadcast tells the WSJ's China Realtime Report that along with its inclusion in the online version of the Gala the Buffett video also aired on TV.

Almost two weeks ago that same blog had knocked down earlier reports that Buffett would sing in the Chinese new year, leading us to post that Millions of Chinese Won't Have to Hear Warren Buffett Sing .

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  Thursday, 19 Jan 2012 | 2:13 PM ET

Warren Buffett Partied With Jay-Z Last Night

Posted ByJohn Carney
Jay-Z and Warren Buffett attend the grand re-opening of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club.
Johnny Nunez | WireImage | Getty Images
Jay-Z and Warren Buffett attend the grand re-opening of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club.

So this happened.

Here's a picture of Warren Buffett hanging out with Jay-Z.

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  Wednesday, 18 Jan 2012 | 2:59 PM ET

'Impressed' and 'Delighted' Warren Buffett Matches GOP Rep's Deficit Donations

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Rep. Scott Rigell, (R) Virginia
Rep. Scott Rigell, (R) Virginia

Warren Buffett will be writing a check made out to the United States Treasury for just over $49,000 to help pay down the national debt.

He's matching voluntary contributions made this year and last year by Rep. Scott Rigell, a Republican representing Virginia.

In a letter to Rep. Rigell released today by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett writes he's "particularly impressed that you took this action before my challenge."

In his challenge, issued in a Time Magazine interview last week, Buffett promises to match voluntary contributions aimed at reducing the deficit by "all Republican members of Congress, and I'll even go three for one with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell."

McConnell , and other critics of Buffett's call for higher tax rates on the super-rich, have been suggesting that if Buffett thinks he's not taxed enough then he should "send in a check " to the Treasury.

In his letter to Buffett , also released by Berkshire, Rep. Rigell writes, that he "appreciates" and "gladly accepts" Buffett's "generous offer."

Rigell says he makes it a practice to donate 15 percent of his Congressional salary "to pay down the debt." That amounted to $23,103.33 in 2011 and about $26,100 in 2012.

Rigell adds, "Though we differ on tax policy, as fellow Americans and businessmen I know that we share this common bond: a deep concern over the state and trajectory of our country's finances."

Buffett writes back that he hopes Rigell's action "spurs an intramural rivalry between Republicans and Democrats .. a form of competition between the two parties that the American people would applaud" as a "small step" toward "better cooperation between the two parties."

Buffett will wait until April 20 to write his check to see if anyone else accepts his challenge.

Buffett also invites Rigell to come for a visit if he's "ever traveling near Omaha."

As for Rigell's offer to provide "documentation" of his contributions, Buffett tells him, "Your word is good with me."

Current Berkshire stock prices:

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Keep up with Warren Buffett on CNBC.com and follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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  Thursday, 12 Jan 2012 | 9:29 AM ET

Bill Gates: His Life in Pictures

Posted ByMichelle Fox

Bill Gates: His Life in Pictures

life-of-bill-gates-cover.jpg
Photo: Ed Kashi | Getty Images

Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world. He’s also changed the way we live and work. Gates started Microsoft more than three decades ago, with the goal of bringing computers into everyone’s home and onto everyone’s desk. These days, he’s more focused on giving his wealth away.

Here’s a look at his life from teenage whiz kid to self-made billionaire to philanthropist.

By Michelle Fox
Posted 12 January 2012

»Read more
  Wednesday, 11 Jan 2012 | 6:23 PM ET

Sen. McConnell Spokesman: Warren Buffett Should Look to Democrats for Deficit Donations

Posted ByAlex Crippen
Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Mitch McConnell

The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has issued a swift response to a tax challenge issued by Warren Buffett in a Time article published today.

McConnell's Deputy Chief of Staff Don Stewart emailed us this:

"Sen. McConnell says that Washington should be smaller, rather than taxes getting bigger. And since some, like President Obama and Mr. Buffett want to pay higher taxes, Congress made it possible for them to call their own bluff and send in a check. So I look forward to Mr. Buffett matching a healthy batch of checks from those who actually want to pay higher taxes, including Congressional Democrats, the President and the DNC."

Stewart adds that McConnell never suggested that voluntary donations could fix the deficit.

Buffett had sarcastically told Time he was "touched" by McConnell's belief that "Americans are so wonderfully spirited that they would just solve it all by contributions."

It was part of Buffett's offer, with a chuckle, to match three-for-one any voluntary donation McConnell makes to reduce the nation's deficit.

That was his response to the suggestion by McConnell and others that if Buffett's call last fall for higher tax rates on the super-rich means he wants to pay more taxes himself, then he should write a check to the Treasury .

GOP Senator John Thune has even introduced a bill he calls the "Buffett Rule Act of 2011 " that would create "an option for individuals who believe they are under-taxed to voluntarily send extra money to the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of paying down the national debt."

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B:

Class A:

Keep up with Warren Buffett on CNBC.com and follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Wednesday, 11 Jan 2012 | 4:46 PM ET

Warren Buffett Challenges GOP Senator Mitch McConnell to Help Reduce the Federal Deficit

Posted ByAlex Crippen
120111_Buffett_Time_Cover.jpg

Warren Buffett has a challenge for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell .

Last fall, after Buffett wrote his controversial op-ed calling for higher tax rates on the very rich ("Stop Coddling the Super-Rich "), McConnell suggested that if Buffett is "feeling guilty" about his tax rate he should "send in a check " to the Treasury.

That line had become very popular among Buffett's conservative critics.

In a Time Magazine interview posted on its web site , he has some fun with McConnell's suggestion.

"I thought of offering to match the total amount — if we go to a contribution system — I'll match the total contribution made by all Republican members of Congress, and I'll even go three for one with McConnell. (Laughs.)

It's kind of touching this faith he has in the American public, that with a one-point two or three trillion dollar deficit that he thinks Americans are so wonderfully spirited that they would just solve it all by contributions. That is a tax policy only a Republican could come up with. So Mitch — and he's got this line, he's got this proposal out there — I would definitely, it's a firm offer, all the Republican members of Congress and like I say, I'm willing to triple his. I'll match the rest of them."

(You can hear Buffett's comments, along with some others on different topics, courtesy audio files Time has included in its online story.)

Time notes, "That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million."

Buffett says, "I'm not worried."

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B:

Class A:

Keep up with Warren Buffett on CNBC.com and follow alexcrippen on Twitter .

Email comments to buffettwatch@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Monday, 9 Jan 2012 | 6:04 PM ET

Millions of Chinese Won't Have to Hear Warren Buffett Sing

Posted ByAlex Crippen
WarrenBuffettPlaysSmall.jpg

Music lovers in China can relax. The report that Warren Buffett would sing and play guitar for the Chinese New Year turns out not to be accurate.

Last week, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Buffett had recorded a song for the online version of China's extremely popular annual Spring Festival TV show. Xinhua quoted production exec Wang Pingjiu as saying, "We all know that Buffett is good at investment, but few knew he also did well in singing."

Today, the Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report says Buffett has indeed recorded a New Year's greeting for China, but it doesn't include a song.

Sun Media Investment Holding co-chairman Wu Zheng, the go-between for Buffett and the show's production team, tells the blog that he did plan to add a recording of Buffett singing a year ago at a charity event, but dropped that idea after Buffett objected.

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  Friday, 30 Dec 2011 | 5:10 PM ET

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Beaten by Flat S&P in 2011

Posted ByAlex Crippen

Even though the benchmark S&P 500 stock index has ended 2011 unchanged , that flat performance is enough to beat shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire Class A ended the year at $114,755 per share, a drop of 4.7 percent from its 2010 close.

Class B shares fell a little bit more, ending the year with a 4.8 percent decline.

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  Thursday, 29 Dec 2011 | 12:28 PM ET

Helmers: Predictions 2012

John B. Helmers, Principal and Chief Investment Officer of Swiftwater Capital Management offers his 2012 predictions. »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.