A $14 billion bet on the global stock market. Berkshire sold a form of insurance to buyers who wanted protection from a drop in "four major equity indexes" over the next 15 to 20 years. Instead of buying the individual shares, Buffett is wagering the indexes, three of which are outside the United States, will not fall and force Berkshire to pay a claim. The stock-index contracts - derivatives that function like put options - increase Berkshire's risks from market losses. A 30 percent decline in each of the indexes last year would have led to a $900 million pretax loss for the company, according to the March 7 SEC filing. Berkshire's "maximum exposure" was about $14 billion at the end of last year,
the filing said. (Source: IHT)
I picked up from a NYTimes blog the following two comments:
Without necessarily aiming at being Solomonic, aren't they both right?
What can a lowly non-investor (and non-economist) add to the cogent commentary on this ground-breaking event. As one of the planet's wealthiest is embarking on a yet another exotic plan to add zeros to his bottom line, the usual sycophants (the true economic zeroes) are predictably lining up to butter his fanny. The oh-so-small-and-meaningless amongst us seem to feel that by debating the continuing efforts of a classic robber-baron that they are somehow involved in the process. Much as cows feeling empowered by the economic vagaries of the meat-packing adistributionion industry. In a time of incredible usurpation of human rights and the uttdiminutionion of learning, intellectual pursuit and the arts, maybe it is time for the expression of righteous disgust at not just the robber-barons but the worshippers of the golden idols.
Comment by big gee
[...] big gee, while I can't speak for anyone else, there are 2 reasons beyond syncophancy to follow Mr. Buffet: one, he is remarkably prescient and two, he is the Michael Jordan of money. Watching him play the game just leaves us normal people awestruck.
Not that I would want to be him, or that I admire him personally, necessarily. After 120 years, he too will learn the Wisdom of Koheles.
Comment by Steve