Interim statement of the Board of Directors for the first quarter of 2021
(Bloomberg) — Warren Buffett delivered a clear verdict Saturday on the state of the U.S. economy as it emerges from the pandemic: red hot.“It’s almost a buying frenzy,” the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chief executive officer said during the conglomerate’s annual meeting, which was held virtually from Los Angeles. “People have money in their pocket and they’re paying higher prices,” he said.Buffett attributed the faster-than-expected recovery to swift and decisive rescue measures by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government, which helped kick 85% of the economy into “super high gear,” he said. But as growth roars back and interest rates remain low, many — including Berkshire — are raising prices and there is more inflation “than people would have anticipated six months ago,” he said.Buffett reunited with his long-time friend and business partner Charlie Munger for this year’s meeting. Munger didn’t make it to last year’s meeting in Omaha, Nebraska — Buffett’s hometown — due to the shutdowns across the country. Some shareholders were relieved to see the duo fielding questions together again.“I really feel that both Charlie and Warren displayed their usual and amazing level of acuity and intellectual energy,” said James Armstrong, who manages assets including Berkshire shares as president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates.Buffett and Munger spent hours fielding questions, from the economy, to climate and diversity, the SPAC boom, taxes and succession. Here’s the lowdown:Climate Pressure:Berkshire faced pressure from two shareholders proposals, one to improve transparency related to its efforts on climate change. The topic was bound to be a feature at the meeting — and it was.When asked about the proposals, Buffett stuck to his previous stance. Measures to produce big reports on diversity and climate for his business lines spanning energy to railroads were, he said, “asinine.” The proposals were later voted down.Buffett was also asked about Berkshire’s stake in oil and gas producer Chevron Corp., which it disclosed earlier this year. Buffett said he felt “no compunction” in the least about its ownership in the company, which he said had benefited society in many ways. While he acknowledged the world is shifting away from hydrocarbons, people on the extreme sides of either argument are “a little nuts,” he said.Greg Abel, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, called climate change a “material risk.” He added that they’re setting targets and spending $18 billion over 10 years on transmission infrastructure.Killer SPACs:Buffett warned investors that Berkshire might not have much luck striking deals amid the boom in special purpose acquisition companies that gripped the market over the past year.“It’s a killer,” Buffett said about the influence of SPAC companies on Berkshire’s ability to find businesses to buy….