February 23, 2012. Omaha. For decades, Warren Buffett has been called ‘the Oracle of Omaha’ for his well-timed stock trades and seemingly psychic abilities when it comes to the future performance of corporations. Looking back over the past half decade however, it’s been clear how Buffett has made his billions in profits, and it isn’t pretty. The upcoming issue of Reason is the latest to expose the billionaire investor for not just his insider trades, but his influence on the men who controlled the outcome of those trades.
Warren Buffett is making billions in profits off the very programs he's advising President Obama on. Image courtesy of TIME.
Based on the article by Peter Schweizer in the March Reason.com, taxpayer watchdog groups have launched a public relations blitz against the grandfatherly investment icon. In addition to detailing the mountain of insider trades Buffett has made in the last five years, Schweizer goes so far as to compare him to a ‘bootlegger’. Based on this author’s past investigations on the subject, calling Warren Buffett a bootlegger is generous.
Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America goes one step further, calling Buffett a “phony”. Tobin went on to explain, “Buffett has used taxpayer money to achieve even greater profit and wealth. Rather than the grandfatherly, honest-as-the-day-is-long character he projects, the success of some of his biggest bets and largest investments rely on government generosity, using taxpayer money.”
How did Buffett make billions using US taxpayers?
Since it would take an entire book to detail all the ways Warren Buffett is involved in America’s economy, both on the private side, but also the government side, one can sum up his direct connection over the past five years by saying; He owned the banks that created and sold worthless assets to the world’s investors. He owned the ratings agency that charged huge fees to lie about the value of those worthless assets. He owned the banks that bet against huge odds on those same worthless assets. He owned the media company that made sure the American people never found out the truth. He owned…invested in, rather, the man who would decide the fate of each of his investments, US Senator Barack Obama. He created the government bailout plan that would save his soon-to-be worthless investments. He profited by the billions on the implementation of his global banking bailout idea. With the US economy collapsed, he advised the President to pump trillions of dollars into the US economy through massive stimulus programs, profiting companies he owned. From destruction to rebuilding, Warren Buffett has helped guide the events like no other man alive, and profited like no other as well.
Keep in mind, most of the above charges are documented in the data collected by author Peter Schweizer in his above-mentioned 4-page report featured in Reason.com. Some of the others can be found in Buffett’s numerous editorial pieces and even his testimony before the US Senate when the most powerful government body in the world asked the Oracle of Omaha what happened to the US banking system and what went wrong.
Warren Buffett owned the banks that created this mess
As documented in the timeless Whiteout Press articles, ‘The American Housing Meltdown – How? Why?’ and ‘What caused America’s Economic Collapse’, the small handful of individuals who created the “weapons of financial mass destruction” were all from Michael Milken’s convicted junk bond firm. After a slap on the wrist by the government, each separately found a home at Wall Street’s biggest banks – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch. There, they devised endless worthless batches of ‘mortgage backed securities’ that they sold all over the world. Warren Buffett owned and currently owns, a number of these banks including the most accused of them all – Goldman Sachs.
Warren Buffett owned the ratings agency that fraudulently rated worthless investments as AAA – the highest grade available. For an extremely inflated and enormously profitable fee, the agencies began rating anything and everything AAA, as long as they could charge obscene amounts of money. Warren Buffett owned Moodys, one of the three ratings agencies, and profited as much as anyone. In his testimony before the US Senate, Buffett let many of his admirers down when he was asked if he would have done anything different if he were in charge of the day to day activities at Moodys at the time. His reply was, “No. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
Warren Buffett owned the banks that bet more than they had on those same worthless assets
As ironic as it sounds, the same handful of big banks that created all the worthless assets, was selling them from one floor of their building, and buying their own worthless assets on another floor of their building. So overwhelmed by the greed and instant profits of long-shot investments, banks like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and others began buying their own worthless creations. Again, Warren Buffett owned gigantic, multi-billion dollar portions of some of these very same banks.
Warren Buffett owned the media company that hid the truth
This item reveals just how intertwined the elite establishment class in America truly is. According to Peter Schweizer’s detailed reporting, we know that on the day before Congress passed TARP, the bank bailout, Buffett bought $3 billion worth of General Electric stock, with an option to buy $3 billion more. Just as he did during the same time period with Goldman Sachs, Warren Buffet bailed out two of the largest financial institutions in the world. And he made billions in profits on the deal by insisting on a 10 percent dividend rate and receiving ‘preferred’ stock, insuring that in case of bankruptcy, Buffett would be paid before anyone, even the taxpayers. General Electric is not only one of the largest defense contractors in the world, and one of the largest banks in the world through GE Capital, but it also owns NBC Universal and its entire spectrum of network and cable TV stations. Each network just happened to spread panic simultaneously, saying the US economy would collapse if a massive trillion dollar bank bailout wasn’t enacted. GE received $140 billion in taxpayer bailout money.
Warren Buffett, President Obama’s number one economic advisor
As detailed in the report, Warren Buffet and Barack Obama have known each other longer than most people are aware. Perhaps showing true investment foresight, Warren Buffett was one of the earliest financial investors in then unknown, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. Buffett contributed to his campaign for US Senate, and then again to his campaign for President. The President went so far as to say in a speech that while he has a number of financial advisers that give him advise on how to govern the economy, “Warren Buffett is one of those people that I listen to.”
Warren Buffett created his own global, taxpayer-funded bailout and profited handsomely
On September 3, 2008, President Bush was missing in action and frozen in the headlights while Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson went on national TV warning of imminent economic collapse and the failure of the entire US economy…unless. The ‘unless’ was a massive $700 billion bailout of the nation’s largest banks. If they fell, we were warned, all the other banks in America would fall like dominos. On that day, Warren Buffett did what Congress was still too afraid to do. He bailed out Goldman Sachs with a high-interest, $5 billion dollar cash infusion and an option to buy $5 billion worth of discounted stock later.
While urging Congressmen, President Bush and the two candidates for President to pass the gigantic bailout package, Buffett publically showed the American people that not only wasn’t it dangerous, it was downright patriotic. When the bailout was signed into law by President Bush only weeks later, Buffett’s investment instantly skyrocketed, earning him billions in profits. Did he know the bailout was coming? He wasn’t the only one to profit by it. A number of Senators and Congressmen were buying and selling Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock before, during and after they passed the bailout, including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Others were buying Goldman Sachs’ stock at the same time, including Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Jeff Binghaman (D-NM) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL). Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Insider Trading is Legal for Congressmen’ for more examples.
After the first $700 billion dollar bank bailout, Buffett drafted a second – PPIP. It was called a ‘public private investment program’. It was really a taxpayer-backed fund for banks to dump their worthless assets in and receive payment, compliments of the taxpayer. Warren Buffett outlined this proposal in a 4-page letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson right after the first bailout. Immediately after sending Paulson the outline for a second bank bailout, Warren Buffett went on a bank buying spree.
When the new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the second bank bailout called PPIP, Buffett’s bank investments not only skyrocketed, some like his US Bancorp stock, more than doubled in value, earning billions upon billions in profits for the Oracle of Omaha. His General Electric purchase alone netted him a $1.2 billion profit and his Goldman Sachs investment did even better, earning Buffett $3.7 billion.
Collapse and Stimulus
Americans are still wondering what happened. We were warned that if the US taxpayers didn’t bail out the banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies, auto industry, Chinese banks, Japanese Banks, German Banks, British Banks and an endless list of other recipients of US bailouts, the US economy would collapse, credit would dry up, unemployment would top 10 percent and it would take decades to dig back out. The US taxpayers gave in to their every demand, and they still shut down the nation’s economy, throwing millions out of work, out of their homes and onto the street.
When the US taxpayers showed no stomach for another trillion dollars to bail out the banks a third time, Buffett turned his attention toward ‘stimulus’ and ‘rebuilding’. Coincidentally, Warren Buffett had accumulated a large number of infrastructure stocks like railroads and utilities, both regulated by his friends in the Federal government. Now, it was time to cash in on his investments.
In 2009, Warren Buffett made his largest investment ever, buying Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Again as with the banks the year before, Buffett wasn’t investing in company fundamentals as much as he was investing in his relationship with his old friend Barack Obama. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, “Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s planned purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. represents a bet that upcoming Washington policies to improve infrastructure and combat climate change will be a boon to the freight-railroad industry. President Barack Obama has said railroad investment will be a cornerstone of his transportation policies.”
To make Warren Buffett’s vision of a taxpayer funded railroad fortune appear out of nowhere, his company Berkshire Hathaway increased its number of Washington lobbyists almost ten-fold. In 2008, Buffett’s firm spent $1.2 million on lobbying. In 2009, that amount jumped to $9.8 million. As Peter Schweizer’s research reveals, the rail lines of Buffett’s Burlington Northern that crisscross the nation, just happen to practically match a map of President Obama’s proposed national high-speed rail line.
President Obama’s 2009 ‘stimulus program’, with a price tag of $787 billion dollars, included billions for railroads. According to the Schweizer's article in Reason.com, a search of the Federal government’s stimulus website – recovery.gov – turns up a total of 1,800 program matches for BNSF, Burlington Northern’s call letters. Buffett’s railroad is profiting on stimulus programs facilitated by agencies from the Dept of Homeland Security to the EPA.
While a number of Warren Buffett’s companies are receiving stimulus money, he can also claim the dubious title of being the largest recipient of government funding. General Electric, of which Buffett owns $5 billion worth, is the number one largest recipient of taxpayer stimulus funding from President Obama’s program. GE, as mentioned above, was one of the largest recipients of the almost trillion dollar bank bailout. GE also happens to own NBC and its family of network and cable TV stations. GE is also one of the largest recipients of US defense spending. GE’s CEO, Jeff Imelt, is President Obama’s ‘Jobs Czar’.
And as a final spit in the eye to US taxpayers, GE is also the same company that recently announced it was closing down the headquarters of its booming X-ray division after 100 years in Wisconsin, and moving it to China. As GE CEO and President Obama’s Jobs Czar Jeff Imelt explained, “We have a second home in China.” Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Jobs Czar sends American Jobs to China’ for details.
In exchange for his profitable position in the Obama White House as one of the President’s most trusted advisors, Warren Buffett recently held a fundraiser for the President Obama in New York. Tickets for elite event cost $35,800 each. The money raised is to benefit President Obama’s re-election campaign, and of course, Warren Buffett.