Bloomberg TV anchor Betty Liu interviewed three generations of Buffetts this morning: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO Warren Buffett, his son Howard G. Buffett and grandson, Howard W. Buffett.
Warren Buffett spoke about JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and the bank’s mortgage settlement, saying, “If you’re a financial institution and you’re threatened with criminal prosecution, you have no ability to negotiate…Basically, you’ve got to be like a wolf that bares its throat, you know, when it gets to the end. You cannot win…This country is a lot better off because Jamie Dimon has been running JPMorgan.”
Buffett also spoke why he likes AMC’s “Breaking Bad and what character he identifies most with, saying, “People would probably think I’m probably Saul, the lawyer, twelve cell phones and everything.”
Video for viewing and embedding here:
BETTY LIU, BLOOMBERG: He’s one of the most famous investors of all time. And now Warren Buffett is turning his focus to a new book written by his son and grandson. I’m joined now by three generations of the Buffetts, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, his son, Howard G. Buffett, and grandson, Howard W. Buffett. Welcome to all of you. This is a historic moment here having the three of you sit here in our Bloomberg studio.
HOWARD W. BUFFETT, AMERICAN PHILANTHROPIST: First time we’ve done it.
LIU: First time you’ve done it, okay. Howard, let’s start with you because you are the driver of this book, “40 Chances, Hope in a Hungry World,” that you’ve just published. And part of that came from – well first of all how did you rope everybody into helping you with this, especially your dad?
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: And it was easy for him. I just promised him more Dairy Queen. And I can’t tell you what I have on him.
LIU: All right so the idea of the book for those who haven’t read it is that everybody has about 40 years in their lifetime, right, to do, to make a difference in this world. And you kind of learned this from farming. You said you went to an event and you heard another farmer talk about the 40 chances that you have to really make the most out of your land. And this is where you got the idea for this.
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: Yes. And I thought about that. It actually changed a few things I did in farming, but more importantly it really kind of made me think about how – now the problem with bringing Warren along is my dad is that he has about 80 chances than most of us more, but
LIU: And counting.
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: – he’s telling me that. But most people really have about 40 good years. You get through school. You get a little experience and you think about the goals you want to accomplish, and the legacy you want to build or whatever it is you want to do. And really 40 years is probably the prime that you have to do that.
LIU: And why did you choose hunger, fighting hunger?
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: Well hunger is kind of a natural for me from the sense that I really understand agriculture. And that’s where it begins. And if you go around the world there’s billions of farmers literally that can’t feed their families, which is something that really is we would never think of that here, but there’s a lot of farmers that are hungry and their families are hungry. And it’s a production issue. And it’s a complicated production issue because of infrastructure and government.
LIU: It’s more than just providing them skills. It’s more than providing them seeds.
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: It’s way than, yes, way more than that.
LIU: It’s more than education.
HOWARD G. BUFFETT: Yes. It’s way more than that, but it’s all those pieces you have to put together. And on a continent like Africa it’s a challenge because you have limited infrastructure and you have – you do have a lot of governance issues. And so but it’s something a core part of it is really basic production.
LIU: Warren, I read the foreword that you wrote, which was say half, say very typical Warren Buffett style. You could really relate to it. And I want to just read one excerpt of the foreword that you wrote in this book. You wrote, “In this ovarian lottery my children received some lucky tickets. Many people who experience such good fortune react by simply enjoying their position in life. This approach is understandable though it can become distasteful.” Have you been happy with Howard and your family, your children have done with their money?
WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: It’s one of the things that has made me the happiest in life. My kids could do nothing. And instead they’ve – he – all three of them have elected to spend every day, and in Howie’s case enormous effort in helping other people. And I just think that’s terrific. It makes me feel very good.
LIU: Ovarian lottery, where’d you come up with that?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well I came up with that a long, long time ago to describe the situation that – I was lucky. I was born in the United States. The odds were 30 or 40-to-1 against that. I had some lucky genes. I was born at the right time. If I’d been born thousands of years ago I’d be some animal’s lunch because I can’t run very fast or climb trees. So there’s so much chance in how we enter the world. And –
LIU: And you were always aware to make sure your children and their grandchildren, and your grandchildren would be grounded.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes. And we’re not – how you came out of the womb has really nothing to do with what kind of person you are. You decide what kind of person you’re going to be. It does decide whether maybe you never have to do an item of work in your life and maybe determine whether you’re fighting uphill all of the time, but where in my life, in my eyes is we’re all created equal, and but we don’t all have an equal opportunity by a longshot. And my kids really work every day in trying to even up the scorecard.
LIU: Howie, I know that – we had you on earlier when you were first starting to just about to a lecture at Columbia University, which is of course where your grandfather graduated from. Is the Buffett name, do you feel that that had an aura around it when you were there? Or do people treat you the same? Or tell me how that affected you.
HOWARD W. BUFFETT: Well it actually I haven’t noticed anything too unique or