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Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha: A Hedge Fund Manager's Dispatches from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Hardcover – October 7, 2008
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From the Back Cover
Welcome to the “WOODSTOCK OF CAPITALISM”
Omaha Nebraska, Saturday May 3, 2008 The nation’s largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Credit, has collapsed after 38 years of making home loans—-a victim of its own aggressive lending practices, soaring loan losses, and a credit squeeze that forced it to sell out at a fire-sale price.
Bear Stearns, which survived the Crash of 1929 without a single layoff and ranked among the top investment banks in the United States, virtually disappeared overnight after 85 years on Wall Street. Only an 11th hour rescue by JP Morgan and the U.S. Treasury prevented a world-wide financial meltdown.
And 31,000 people have converged on Omaha to hear what Warren Buffett thinks will happen now.
The “Oracle of Omaha” is in the building.
“After reading Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett’s Omaha, my view of Buffett has been radically changed. Jeff Matthews reveals some of Warren Buffett’s most interesting professional foibles and personal blemishes.”—Douglas A. Kass, Seabreeze Partners Management Inc.
About the Author
Jeff Matthews founded Ram Partners, LP, a hedge fund based in Greenwich, CT, in 1994. His distinctive financial blog, Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up, is regularly featured in the Wall Street Journal’s blog roll and has a loyal following among Wall Street analysts, traders, and portfolio managers, as well as investors around the world.
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Top Customer Reviews
Buffet and Munger are to be admired for what they have done but it is no "case study" for any MBA school. How can anyone emulate their structure or logic?
We, as a nation, require better and more successful modes of operation. Whether you or I make some money is not the issue. What happens to us a nation is much more important. We need a better trading system and more honest trading companies. We need to feed those who need food and clothe those who are bare. We need to study our founding fathers and to emulate their successes. I fear it will never happen.
On the surface this is almost a sociological study of the yearly 30.000 person event. The AGM is part of Buffett's attempt to gain a high quality ownership base through constant communication of his values and philosophy. The highlight is the Q&A-session that goes on almost a full Saturday and anyone can ask anything apart from what Buffett is investing in next. Beside the Q&A-session there are furthermore exhibition halls for the Berkshire companies' products, private dinners and lunches with Buffett and other Berkshire dignitaries, cocktail parties etc. Matthews takes the reader to what is a combination of a sports event, a country fair and a revival meeting to meet with countless of white couples nearing retirement age and groups of men in their middle ages who are there to see the Buffett and Munger show.
The good thing is that the author apart from an amateur sociologist also is a fund manager. This enables him to pick up and comment on all the nuggets in Buffett's investment philosophy. Concepts like staying within you circle of competence, being in Omaha to get out of the jitter on Wall Street, the value of versatility, flexibility and preparedness in investing and the scepticism towards academic finance is all there. Matthews discusses Buffett's search for companies with durable competitive advantages, high return on invested capital, trustworthy management and the focus on avoiding mistakes, "I put a heavy weight on safety", as Warren puts it.
Many of the questions put to Buffett regards how to succeed with investments. The answer to read everything on the subject, to sit and think a lot and to develop an investment style that suits yourself is perhaps not the quick way to riches that many wanted as an answer but it contains tons of wisdom. On less generic advice is however given and that is that all an investor needs to know about investing is to be found in chapters 8 and 20 of Ben Grahams book The Intelligent Investor - the chapters that discuss how to think about market fluctuations and why you should have a margin of safety between price and value when you invest.
The combination of curiousness of the event and understanding of the investment philosophy that Buffett's comments relate to makes Matthews an ideal guide and the book a nice read. The blog format is easily digestible and it's easy to just continue with the next chapter. Even though Matthews is a value investor from start its apparent how the event is affecting him. I enjoyed being able to follow him around into the midst of rural US. However I'm not sure that this is a book suitable for those who want to learn about how Buffett invests. The investment philosophy is much too wrapped up in other reflections and not really spelled out clearly. The books by Mary Buffett or Robert Hagstrom will do a better job.
In May 1956 a young Buffett invested $100 into Buffett Partnership. Half a century later he is not only the richest man in the world but also leader of a cult. This book is a chance to get a better understanding of a phenomenon of our time.
This is a review by eqtbooks.com