Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It isn't given to man to......................

Mr. Bondi:  "Now, earlier you referenced the GSEs and it's been reported that in 2000 you sold nearly all of your Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae shares.
      What persuaded you in 2000 to think that those were no longer good investments?"

Mr. Buffett:  "Well, I didn't know that they weren't going to be good investments, but I was concerned about management at both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, although our holdings were concentrated in Fannie Mae.
      They were trying to - and proclaiming that they could increase earnings per share in some low double-digit range or something of the sort.  And any time a large financial institution starts promising regular earnings increases, you're going to have trouble, you know?
      I mean, it isn't given to man to be able to run a financial institution where different interest-rate scenarios will prevail on all of that so as to produce  kind of smooth, regular earnings from a very large base to begin with;  and so if people are thinking that way, they are going to do things, maybe in accounting - as it turns out to be the case in both Freddie and Fannie - but also in operations that I would regard as unsound.  And I don't know when it will happen.  I don't even know for sure if it will happen.  It will happen eventually, if they keep up that kind of policy;  and so we decided - or I just decided to get out."

-an exchange extracted from Warren Buffett's testimony to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

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