The job of CEO’s is now to regain America’s trust—and for the country’s sake it’s important that they do so. They will not succeed in this endeavor, however, by way of fatuous ads, meaningless policy statements, structural changes of boards and committees. Instead, CEO’s must embrace stewardship as a way of life and treat owners as partners, not patsies. It’s time for CEO’s to walk the walk.1
I will keep well over 99% of my net worth in Berkshire. My wife and I have never sold a share nor do we intend to. Charlie and I are disgusted by the situation, so common in the last few years, in which disasters have walked with extraordinary wealth. Indeed, many of these people were urging investors to buy shares while concurrently dumping their own, sometimes using methods that hid their actions. To their shame, these business leaders view shareholders as patsies not partners.
Though Enron has been the symbol for shareholder abuse, there is no shortage of egregious conduct elsewhere in corporate America.2
Our equation is different. With 47% of Berkshire’s stock, Charlie and I don’t worry about being fired, and we receive our rewards as owners, not managers. Thus we behave with Berkshire’s money as we would with our own. That frequently leads us to unconventional behavior both in investments and general business management.3
Our acquisitions ...