Oh Insurer Where Art Thou Part 5: In the Jailhouse Now

Song Jimmie Rodgers
Lyrics by Sop81_1
Performed by: Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, Ronald E. Ferguson, Robert D. Graham and Christopher P. Garand, and Christian M. Milton
Special Guest Yodelers: Warren Buffet, Tim Balducci, Steve Patterson, Joey Langston and Dick Scruggs

I had a friend named Ramblin’ Ron
Who used to steal gamble and rob
He thought he was the smartest guy in town
But I found out last Monday
That Ron got locked up Sunday
They’ve got him in the jailhouse way down town
He’s in the jailhouse now he’s in the jailhouse now
I told him once or twice quit playin’ cards and shootin’ dice
He’s in the jailhouse now Continue reading “Oh Insurer Where Art Thou Part 5: In the Jailhouse Now”

Is it possible Berkshire Hathaway is insolvent Part Deux: Fitch Downgrades Warren

The emperor has no clothes! Bloomberg has the story (H/T Russell):

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had its top-level AAA credit rating cut by Fitch Ratings, which cited concern about the potential for losses on the insurer’s equity and derivatives holdings.

Buffett’s role as chief investment officer also puts the company at risk if he becomes unable to do the job, Fitch said in a statement. Fitch cut the so-called issuer default rating on Berkshire to AA+, and senior unsecured debt to AA. The insurance and reinsurance units kept their AAA status, with a negative outlook for all entities, Fitch said.

“Fitch views this risk as unrelated to Mr. Buffett’s age, but rather Fitch’s belief that Berkshire’s record of outstanding long-term investment results and the company’s ability to identify and purchase attractive operating companies is intimately tied to Mr. Buffett,” Fitch said. Buffett is 78.

Berkshire joins General Electric Co., which was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s today and lost its status as one of the remaining AAA companies in the U.S. Berkshire stock fell 35 percent in 12 months on concern that Buffett’s bets on derivatives — instruments he has called “financial weapons of mass destruction” — will crush profit at the firm. Continue reading “Is it possible Berkshire Hathaway is insolvent Part Deux: Fitch Downgrades Warren”

What’s Another 3 Billion Dollars Among Friends? Rohm & Haas Busts Buffett’s Chops

Even an Oracle is sometimes blind. From the Business Insider at Clusterstock:

Investors are already fretting about Berkshire Hathaway’s pristine financial standing, as the CDS market assigns the company a 13% chance of going totally bust. Meanwhile, Buffett’s latest stock moves — which may pan out over the long term — have gone the wrong way.

Yesterday’s Dow Chemical/Rohm & Haas settlement means The Oracle needs to put up more cash, per an agreement he made last Summer. On Squawk Box yesterday, he described the $3 billion commitment as “dumb” in light of the changed economy:

QUICK: A lot of viewers wrote in and had specific questions about your investments. David wrote in and says, “You’ve committed financing for Dow Chemical’s acquisition of Rohm and Haas Company. What are your thought on the upcoming lawsuit and whether or not the deal should continue to move forward?” Continue reading “What’s Another 3 Billion Dollars Among Friends? Rohm & Haas Busts Buffett’s Chops”

Is it possible Berkshire Hathaway is insolvent? Warren Buffett, Oracle of Omaha and Media Darling, Welcome to Slabbed

A market economy creates some lopsided payoffs to participants. The right endowment of vocal chords, anatomical structure, physical strength, or mental powers can produce enormous piles of claim checks (stocks, bonds, and other forms of capital) on future national output. Proper selection of ancestors similarly can result in lifetime supplies of such tickets upon birth. If zero real investment returns diverted a bit greater portion of the national output from such stockholders to equally worthy and hardworking citizens lacking jackpot-producing talents, it would seem unlikely to pose such an insult to an equitable world as to risk Divine Intervention.

How Inflation Swindles the Equity Investor by Warren E. Buffett, Fortune May 1977

As the current CDO/MBS meltdown manifests itself in varying ways throughout our financial system we’ve seen Mr Buffett’s name with increasing regularity in the financial press. His recent 2008 shareholder letter was widely cited early last week in the press for instance, especially the paragraph that attempts to put current events in a historical perspective. I was drawn to the paragraph two above that one:

This debilitating spiral has spurred our government to take massive action. In poker terms, the Treasury and the Fed have gone “all in.” Economic medicine that was previously meted out by the cupful has recently been dispensed by the barrel. These once unthinkable dosages will almost certainly bring on unwelcome aftereffects. Their precise nature is anyone’s guess, though one likely consequence is an onslaught of inflation. Moreover, major industries have become dependent on Federal assistance, and they will be followed by cities and states bearing mind-boggling requests. Weaning these entities from the public teat will be a political challenge. They won’t leave willingly.

I immediately wondered what he meant by ‘They”. “They won’t leave willingly”. And is this the same “they” that brought us this disaster? Did anyone at CNBC, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times read Buffett’s letter with a critical eye? I’ll warn our readers now this will be a long post by necessity.

First we’ll start with a blog entry from Seeking Alpha that appeared yesterday on our Hartford Bankruptcy Watch RSS feed. The entry and commentary, which we will explore in some detail, is stunning in both detail and human psychology. I don’t buy the author’s conclusions as a closer look at his data suggests something entirely different but let’s start with the numbers which are indisputable: Continue reading “Is it possible Berkshire Hathaway is insolvent? Warren Buffett, Oracle of Omaha and Media Darling, Welcome to Slabbed”