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Berkshire Hathaway

My taste in financial advice runs toward the simple and the lessons I’ve learned the hard way. But I still like reading about investing/finance, and I recently read through the 2014 annual report for Berkshire Hathaway.

Given that it was the 50th anniversary of Warren Buffett taking charge of Berkshire, I have to admit that I expected more nuggets of wisdom. I did have two favorite quotes though. On page 19, Buffett writes “Huge institutional investors, viewed as a group, have long underperformed the unsophisticated index-fund investor who simply sits tight for decades.” So take it from Warren Buffett: broad-based index funds with low fees will outperform most active management. That’s something that most people saving for retirement–which should be almost everyone–should keep in mind.

The other quote I liked was on page 35: “In our view, it is madness to risk losing what you need in pursuing what you simply desire.” That’s some serious life wisdom there, not just good financial sense.

I have to say though, I was troubled by a recent report from the Center for Public Integrity and the Seattle Times. The report contends that Clayton Homes, a subsidiary of Berkshire, preys on vulnerable people in all kinds of ways, including predatory sales and lending practices. The article is long, but it’s worth reading all of it.

A follow-up post digs into Berkshire’s response to the story.

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