Berkshire Hathaway 2018 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 1

Warren has been semi-retired for decades

Carol Loomis:

Good morning. In choosing a first question to ask each year, I look for a question that is definitely Berkshire-related and is timely. And this question seemed to fill the bill. The question came from William Anderson of Salem, Oregon.

And he said, “Mr. Buffett, you have previously said that there are two parts to your job, overseeing the managers and capital allocation. Mr. Abel and Mr. Jain now oversee the managers, which leaves you with capital allocation.

“However, you share capital allocation with Ted Weschler and Todd Combs. Question. Does all that mean you are semi-retired? Or if not, please explain.”

Warren Buffett:

I’ve been semi-retired for decades.

The answer is that I was probably… well, it’s hard to break down the percentage of the time that I was involved in but now… the jobs that are now done by Ajit and Greg, and in the case of investing, the sub part of the job that is done by Ted and Todd.

Ted and Todd each manage 12- or $13 billion, so in total, that’s 25 billion. And we have in equities 170-some billion, probably now, and 20 billion in longer-term bonds, and another hundred billion in cash and short-term.

So they’re managing 20… 25 and doing a very good job. And I still have the responsibility, basically, for the other 300 billion. So…

I think Charlie will tell you… in fact, I’d like him to comment… nothing’s really changed that much. We’ve got… clearly we’ve got two people in Ajit and Greg that are smarter, more energetic, just bring more to the job every day.

But they don’t bring too much, because the culture is that our managers are running their business. But there’s a lot… there’s a good bit to oversee. So they do a superb job.

And Ted and Todd not only do a great job with the 12 or 13 billion each… they started with a couple billion each… not that it’s all been the growth of the 2 billion… but they also do… have done a number of things for Berkshire that they do it cheerfully, but more important, very skillfully.

So there’s just… there’s one thing after another that I will have them looking into or working on. And sometimes I steal their ideas and…

But I think, actually, semi-retired is probably… catches me at my most active point. I think if… your questioner’s got a good point.

OK, Charlie?

Charlie Munger:

Well, I’ve watched Warren for a long time, and he sits around reading most of the time and thinking. And every once in a while he talks on the phone or talks to somebody. I can’t see any great difference. A lot of people…

Part of the Berkshire secret is that when there’s nothing to do, Warren is very good at doing nothing.

Warren Buffett:

I’m still looking forward to being a mattress tester.

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