This year, around 40,000 shareholders attended Berkshire Hathaway 2023 annual meeting to see Warren Buffett speak.
Because he spends several hours answering questions and talking about the stock market, society, and answering philosophical questions about how to live a good life.
Last year, I went to Omaha to see it (from there the picture). This year, I had to stream it from home and take notes.
What was the most important thing he said in 2023?
In this blog post, I’ll look at the most important things he said at this year’s meeting about stocks and the economy. In the next blog post, I’ll look at his life advice.
If you still want to see a recording of Berkshire Hathaway 2023, you can watch it on CNBC here. You can also save a lot of time by digesting my summary here.
1. Berkshire Experiences a Slowdown
Warren Buffett started by presenting Berkshire Hathaway’s financial statements.
Berkshire Hathaway owns over 60 different companies and therefore has a lot of input in various industries. You can see the companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns here.
He said that we’ve just come out of an extraordinary period of consumption stimulated by government support, but now they are experiencing a slowdown across various businesses.
“It was an exceptional time, but it’s over now. It’s different from just six months ago. People are not in the same frame of mind,” Buffett said.
2. Buffett Avoids Banks
He talked a lot about how Americans don’t understand how banks work, and how that’s worrying.
You don’t have to line up to make a bankrun today, but it can happen in seconds.
He said that the US authorities have no interest in letting a bank fail. Depositors are protected (shareholders are not), but the American public don’t seem to understand it.
Both politicians, regulators, and the press have been bad at explaining it.
“In such a situation, we are very cautious about owning banks,” he said.
Berkshire sold off some banks during the pandemic in 2020 and has sold more in the last six months. He also said that Bank of America is an exception. “We really like the bank and really like the management,” he said.
3. There Are Problems in Commercial Real Estate
Buffett was asked if real estate investments are important to Berkshire, and he rejected that. He went on to say that there are big problems in (especially commercial) real estate markets right now.
“We’re seeing the consequences of people being able to borrow at 2.5% interest. Now they’re finding out that it doesn’t work, and the properties have to be given back to those who lent them the money,” Buffett said.
4. There are Opportunities for Value Investors Today
Warren Buffett’s partner Charlie Munger believed that it is harder to be a value investor today because there are more people competing for the same opportunities.
Warren Buffett completely disagreed with him.
“What creates the opportunity is that other people are doing dumb things,” he said, emphasizing that there are even more such opportunities today.
“In the 58 years we’ve been running Berkshire, I would say there’s been a great increase in the number people doing dumb things, and they do big dumb things,” he said,” Buffett said.
He indicated that he would be able to achieve the same success in building wealth if he started over today. “I would love to be born today without too much money and turn that money into a lot of money,” Buffett said.
5. The Dollar Continues as a Reserve Currency
The dollar is not threatened according to Warren Buffett. He simply can’t see which other currency would take over the position.
“We are the reserve currency, I see no option for any other currency to be the reserve currency,” he said
A Lot of Life Advice
Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger were also asked about how to live a good life.
One of the things I love most about the annual meetings in Omaha is precisely these philosophical questions about life.
In the next blog post, I will summarize the most important life lessons that came out of this year’s meeting, so stay tuned.
To read a summary of last year’s meeting, click here.
If you want to learn more about how to invest like Warren Buffett, you can read more in my e-book here.