Quips and Quotes from the Berkshire Hathaway 2015 Annual Meeting

The ever-quotable Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger will stand in for this week’s Chai Digest. I attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting of the first time and wish I had started years ago. The famed Q&A session was everything and more, and the annual video, never released to the public, was a delight. Here are choice quips as accurately as I could note them:

“When I compare Coke to something someone might sell me at Whole Foods, I don’t see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods.” (Buffett on sugar in foods and drinks and his intake of Coca-Cola)

“Any company that has an economist has one employee too many.” (Munger on excess staff)

“Imagine paying thirty or forty thousand a year for that (Buffett on going to business school in the 1980s-90s only to be taught Efficient Market Theory)

“It’s like a pie eating contest and if you win you get to eat more pie.” (Munger on the modern law firm)

“It’s crazy to sweat at night…over financial things. (Munger, then Buffett on macro predictions)

“The trouble with making all these pronouncements is people gradually begin to think they know something, it’ much better to think you are ignorant.” (Munger on future macro predictions)

“The great brands will survive and the great retailers will do well.” (Buffett on retail)

“We’ve seen people self-destruct to make money they didn’t need. And that’s madness.” (Buffett on selecting people”

“Who the hell wouldn’t want rich people coming to spend? … Think of that as you come to Nebraska.” (Munger on California tax policy, then Buffett)

“When you get to the old people’s group and you find you are not deteriorating as fast as your contemporaries you may find you are paying an unfair price for auto insurance, but it’s a good tradeoff.” (Munger on a 74-year old shareholder who did not get the best quote from Geico)

“My case for giving away someone else’s money is also quite restrained.” (Munger on corporate philanthropy)

“You can’t form a business partnership with your thriftless, drunk brother-in-law.” (Munger on the Euro crisis)

“Praise by name, criticize by category.” (Buffett on the Euro crisis))

“Investment banker aided fraud, not exactly novel.” (Munger on the Euro crisis)

“We can be the place for people to dump their activists.” (Buffett on activist investors)

“It’s hard to think of many activists I want to marry into the family…I better stop before he names names.” (Munger, then Buffett on activist investors)

“I liked it a little better when they had a little less competition, but that’s life.” (Munger on American Express)

“I failed in some of these activities with my relatives so I can’t help you.” (Munger on how to spread financial literacy to disadvantaged youth around the world)

“The idea of multitasking my way to glory has never occurred to me.” (Munger on the internet)

“There’s a big tendency to raise prices to what can be collected, and then rationalize it’s worth it.” (Munger on prices of US higher education)

“They’ve actually shot a few people, that really gets people’s attention…now we get to practical advice.” (Munger, then Buffett on the corruption crackdown in China.)

“It’s dishonest to stay stupider than you need to be.” (Munger on improving yourself)

“That’s a stupid question…you are asking too much of the person.” (Munger on a…stupid question)

“I never considered it enough of a life to be shrewder than everyone and make money from passively investing.”(Munger on what he values most)

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  • colleen

    I always found Munger to be the hidden jewel of the meeting. His droll, yet pithy, delivery is absolutely amazing. He can say so much in so little verbiage.

    “I have nothing further to add.”

  • Ted

    Been to a few of these over the years, but have not attended since the B split. Too many people and reporters. Now most of the brk does large amount of their sales during the meeting. (Sees candy for example)

    I wish Wesco was never bought out by brk, that meeting with munger himself is worth the share price.

    also if you think the quotes are good, you should checkout poor Charlie’s almanack.
    https://www.poorcharliesalmanack.com/pca.php

  • OceanBreezes

    Thanks for the post. I have always wanted to go and have made plans for next year. Do all shareholders get passes or is it a lottery now? Do they have enough parking / shuttles – I plan to stay outside of Omaha and have a car?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @OceanBreezes – I will do a more detailed post, short answer there are many people in the venues however we had a a car and all logistics and parking was a breeze. Most area hotels run shuttles. Many points hotels except the Hilton brands are easy to get even relatively late, book the Country Inn now if you have a Club Carlson credit card, though need to cancel by March 29, one month ahead. Any shareholder, A or B, can request up to 4 passes, no lottery. Passes are not tied to person so can give to non-shareholder.

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