I attended Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska this year and it was hands down the best annual meeting I’ve ever attended. (You can read more about my experience and the 33 things I learned from the Berkshire 2016 annual meeting.) And part of what made the meeting so entertaining was the dry wit and humour displayed by Buffett and Munger throughout the day. They literally had the audience in stitches with some their zingers and one-liners.
So here are some of the funnier wisecracks heard from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the 2016 Berkshire annual meeting:
1) On why Charlie always seems to get the girls
Buffett: “Charlie is always the one who gets the girl and I have one explanation for that. As you know every mother in this country tells her daughter at an early age: If you’re choosing between two very old and rich guys pick the one that’s older.”
Buffett is turning 86 this year while Munger is 92.
2) On Donald Trump becoming President
Shareholder: If Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States and recognising your public criticism of him and your public support for Hillary Clinton, what specific risks, regulatory, policy, or otherwise do you foresee for Berkshire?
Buffett: “That won’t be the main problem.”
3) On longevity
Buffett recently celebrated the 100th birthday of his friend, Arjay Miller, former President of the Ford Motor Company.
Buffett: “I went out to see Arjay for his birthday on March 4th and Arjay told me there are 10,000 men in the United States who would live to be 100 or greater and 45,000 women who would live to be 100 or greater. I came back and I checked that on the Internet. I went to the Census figures and sure enough that is the ratio – 10,000 men over 100 roughly and 45,000 women. If you really want to improve your longevity prospects, I mean a guy in my position, you have a sex change. You’re four-and-a-half times more likely to get to be 100. That sounds like one of those studies that people put out. It’s just a matter of fact, folks. I think I’ll have Charlie go first though, on that one.”
4) On Harry Potter
Shareholder: “This annual meeting reminds me of the magical world of Hogwarts of Harry Potter. This arena is our Hogwarts. Warren, you are headmaster and Professor Dumbledore.”
Buffett: “I didn’t read Harry Potter but I’d take it as a compliment.”
5) On credit rating agencies
Shareholder: “With Berkshire Hathaway being so well-managed, why doesn’t it have a higher credit bond rating?”
Munger: “Let me take that one. The rating agencies were wrong!”
Buffett: “And we don’t fit their model very well. I mean, we don’t look like anything exactly, they see otherwise. But…”
Munger: “But that’s the answer!”
6) On cattle farms
One shareholder who owns a cattle farm asked Buffett and Munger if it is wise to own and grow the cattle business as the world population continues to expand.
Munger: I think it is one of the worst businesses I can imagine.
Buffett: There is nothing personal about this.
Munger: Not only is it a bad business but we have no aptitude for it.
Buffett: Some people have done well, Charlie.
Munger: That was some 20 years ago.
Shareholder: I know you guys like steak.
Munger: Very much, but not owning cattle.
Buffett: I know a few people who have done reasonably well raising cattle, but they usually owned a bank on the side. But I wish you the best in it.
7) On their humour
Shareholder: “Mr Buffett your sense of humour always admirable. Where did your sense of humor come from? Please tell us.“
Buffett: “Charlie has a better sense of humor than I am. I’ll let him answer this.”
Munger: “I think if you see the world accurately it’s bound to be humorous because it’s ridiculous.”