Thanks to Will for passing this along. I thought both the Klarman mention and the comments about shorting were especially interesting.
Mr. Buffett was in a reminiscing mood about a bygone era, in part because he was in New York to make the rounds on television to discuss a new book chronicling his 61-year career, which began in 1951 at Buffett-Falk & Company in Omaha. (After lunch, he was going to visit “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”)
The book, “Tap Dancing to Work,” by a longtime journalist and good friend of his, Carol Loomis of Fortune magazine, is a compendium of articles that she and others wrote in Fortune that creates a series of narratives spanning the arc of his career.
Ms. Loomis, who first met Mr. Buffett in 1967 — and whose long career is a story unto itself — also came to our lunch. Ms. Loomis may know more about Mr. Buffett than he knows about himself. (“There’s nothing here you’re going to like,” she said, after surveying the various pies when the dessert cart came around. She was right: he took a quick look and asked if they served ice cream. They did.)
As we talked about the “good old days” — he spoke of some of his early friends who were successful hedge fund investors, like Julian Robertson, who founded Tiger Management — it became clear that he was less enamored of the investor class of the next generation.
When I asked, for example, if there were any private equity investors that he admired, he flatly replied: “No.”
Today, Mr. Buffett is particularly circumspect about the investment strategies that hedge funds employ, like shorting, or betting against, a company’s stock. He used to short companies as part of a hedging strategy when he ran his partnership, but now he says that he and Charlie Munger, his longtime friend and vice chairman of Berkshire, see it as too hard.
“Charlie and I both have talked about it, we probably had a hundred ideas of things that would be good short sales. Probably 95 percent of them at least turned out to be, and I don’t think we would have made a dime out of it if we had been engaged in the activity. It’s too difficult,” he explained, suggesting that the timing of short investments is crucial. “The whole thing about ‘longs’ is, if you know you’re right, you can just keep buying, and the lower it goes, the better you like it, and you can’t do that with shorts.”
Related book: Tap Dancing to Work