Warren Buffett Jokes, But Not About Berkshire Paying a Dividend

Buffett says IBM's Watson will have greatest value when it replaces human labor

Warren Buffett Jokes, But Not About Berkshire Paying a Dividend

Buffett said he was happy to gather more money that can be used for takeovers and stock picks. "People live better when there is more output per capita".

Buffett has said Berkshire could have a new chief executive within 24 hours if he died.

He also said rising health care costs, rather than high taxes, were the biggest drag on USA businesses.

"They have followed the standard capitalist formula ... of trying to do the same business with fewer people", Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway has previously said it was willing to buy back stock, but dividends would mark a a dramatic reversal from just a few years ago, when Buffett had opposed a shareholder proposal calling for Berkshire Hathaway to start paying them.

- On May 4, Warren Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway had sold about 25 million shares in International Business Machines. Referring to Congress, he said: "If they really try and make it revenue neutral, I guess it won't pass".

Over the course of 6 1/2 hours, Buffett, 86, and Munger, 93, touched upon a range of topics, as they sipped Coca-Cola and munched on See's sweets (from two of Berkshire's holdings).

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Buffett also defended one of his favorite business partners of late, 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment firm that has backed both Kraft Heinz and Burger King.

Munger said the current health system gives US companies a big disadvantage in competing with other manufacturers.

"So it is a huge tax cut for guys like me", Buffett said. "So they have gained a 5- or 6-point advantage", he said.

During the interview, Buffett spoke on how he sees progress in India and that he is not anxious about the world's economic environment, adding the United States will prosper more if rest of the world prospers.

Buffett said there is no change in Berkshire's plan to eventually replace him, adding that one of the most important qualities his successor would need is a talent for wisely investing Berkshire's cash. However, he said the US must do more to help Americans who lose their jobs to overseas competition and technology, saying, "Nobody should be roadkill".

Buffett said "it's bad" when airline executives get hauled before Congress, as Munoz and others were last week, but said the strategy behind his airline investments remains unchanged.

Information for this article was contributed by Noah Buhayar, Laura J. Keller, Jordyn Holman and Katherine Chiglinsky of Bloomberg News; and by Josh Funk of The Associated Press.

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