Buffett views are out of step with populist mood

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 3, 2019 - Duration: 02:36s

Buffett views are out of step with populist mood

When Warren Buffett takes the stage at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders’ meeting on Saturday his stance on healthcare reform, big banks and stock buybacks may appear out of touch with the rise of populism in the U.S. Conway G.

Gittens reports.


Buffett views are out of step with populist mood

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is a rock star capitalist... and nowhere does that star shine brighter than when tens of thousands of investors descend on the annual shareholder meeting of his company Berkshire Hathaway.

The events this weekend will provide Buffett's investors a chance to hear firsthand what the closely-watched CEO has to say.

But as a registered Democrat who backed both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton for the White House, Buffett may find his typical capitalism cheerleading at odds with the growing liberal wing of his party and the rise of populism around the U.S..

One notable area: the push for government-sponsored Universal healthcare or Medicare for All.

Buffett has a different idea.

He's working with Amazon and JP Morgan Chase to tackle high medical costs, as Reuters correspondent Trevor Hunnicutt, who is at the gathering in Omaha, explains.

SOUNDBITE: REUTERS CORRESPONDENT TREVOR HUNNICUTT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "That may sound well and good but at the same time that is an employer focused reform and a lot of the kind of populist move on the left has been to get government more involved in healthcare and in fact in many cases, the proposals are to have employers step back from providing insurance and have the government takeover that responsibility." That's not the only topic where its Buffett versus leading Democratic 2020 contenders.

He has multi-billion-dollar stakes in big banks like Wells Fargo; an industry the Dems - especially Senator Elizabeth Warren - continue to attack.

And then there's stock buybacks.

The Left sees buybacks as fattening up the pockets of CEOs and investors at the expense of workers who should get bigger paychecks.

SOUNDBITE: REUTERS CORRESPONDENT TREVOR HUNNICUTT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "When it comes to corporations buying their shares back, buybacks, Warren Buffett has been a big endorser of that.

It benefits his business.

He's an investor in companies such as Apple that do a lot of buybacks and he thinks it's a good thing for an investor in that company to get that kind of return." As an investor - Buffett may also be out of step.

His company's stock is up only 7 percent this year, compared to a 17 percent gain for the S&P 500.

But his investment team is shaking things up, Buffett telling CNBC Friday, his company recently bought a stake in Amazon.

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