Berkshire Hathaway 1999 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 30

The year 2000 computer problem won’t be a big deal

Warren Buffett:

Zone 4.

Audience Member:

Morning, Mr. Buffett. Wayne Lang from Toronto, Canada.

Last year, when you were asked about the Year 2000 computer issue, you expressed some concerns about the cost overruns and the federal government readiness.

Our two countries are in much better shape this year. But could you update us on your current thinking and what concerns you may have about the impact of the lesser readiness, internationally, on our company’s revenues, supply chain, or on the stock market?

Warren Buffett:

Yeah, last year I think I also told you I didn’t really consider myself an expert on this. And what I tell you is just what I pick up from being on audit committees or talking to people who are a lot smarter than I am in this sort of area.

But that doesn’t mean they’re right on it. Because they weren’t talking about it 15 years ago, when they should have been talking about it.

So I… my general feeling… and all secondhand… my general feeling is that the part of the world that we have to worry about is in pretty good shape.

It’s cost a lot of money in various places. It’s cost us a fair amount of money. But it’s… some companies, it’s cost a terrific amount of money.

But I do not think it’s going to be a big deal. And, I… you know, I could be wrong. And I’m less worried about it being a big deal today than I was a year ago.

You know, and Charlie, do you have anything to add?

Charlie Munger:

No.

Warren Buffett:

Does that mean you think it’s going to be less of a big deal than you thought a year ago?

Charlie Munger:

No, it means I have nothing to add.

Warren Buffett:

OK.

That’s probably what I should have said in the first place.

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