Berkshire’s Warren Buffett comments on healthcare, trade, buybacks

(Reuters) – Billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger are answering five hours of questions from shareholders, journalists and analysts at Berkshire’s 52nd annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

The weekend known as “Woodstock for Capitalists” is unique in corporate America, a celebration of the billionaire’s image and success at a conglomerate whose businesses range from Geico insurance to the BNSF railroad to See’s candies to Ginsu knives.

Below are a few of the comments from Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” on a wide range of topics:

ON OBAMACARE REPEAL

“Medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.

“Our health costs have gone up (incredibly) and will go up a lot more … that is a problem this society is having trouble with and is going to have more trouble with. It almost transcends (political party).

“If you talk about the world competitiveness of American industry, (health costs are) the biggest single variable where we keep getting more and more out of whack with the rest of the world.

“(The Obamacare repeal) is a huge tax cut for guys like me … either the deficit goes up or they get the taxes from someone else.”

ON BERKSHIRE’S DURABILITY

“I can’t think of anything that can harm Berkshire in a material, permanent way except weapons of mass destruction.

“If that ever happens, there’ll be more to worry about than the price of Berkshire.”

CHARLIE MUNGER ON PUERTO RICO

“Who would have guessed a U.S. territory would wind up in bankruptcy? I would because they behaved like idiots.”

ON NOT BUYING AMAZON

“I was too dumb to realize what was going to happen.

“I did not think (Jeff Bezos) could succeed on the scale that he has … I underestimated the brilliance of the execution. It takes a lot of ability.

“It always looked expensive … and I never thought he would be where he is today.

“We miss a lot of things.”

ON BERKSHIRE’S BREAK-UP VALUE

“If I die tonight, the stock would go up tomorrow. There’d be speculation…

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