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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goldman Sachs let Warren Buffett learnt a bitter lesson

Warren Buffett, well-known as the "Oracle of Omaha", has been famous for value investing, and also declaring derivatives as the "weapons of economic mass destruction" and stated that he would never be involved in them.

He derailed from this belief, when Berkshire Hathaway in 2008, at the peak of the financial crisis, purchased $5 billion worth of Goldman Sachs' perpetual preferred stock with a 10% dividend and warrants on $5 billion worth of common stock at the price of $115.

Since then, Buffett has been talking good about Goldman Sachs and declaring his strong endorsement to its CEO Lloyd Blankfien. Last week, Ron Olson, one of Berkshire’s directors, once again defended Goldman by saying that "Buffett invested out of belief in not just the strength of Goldman but its integrity."

To the great surprise of the whole world, it was just 3 days right after that "integrity" assurance from Berkshire, Goldman was accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of defrauding its investors. A civil charge was filed on 16 April 2010.

Goldman is accused to have promoted and sold mortgage investments to its investors, without telling the buyers that the securities were crafted with input from its client, Paulson (a hedge fund capitalize on the housing bust), who was betting on them to fail.

The SEC said Paulson paid Goldman roughly $15 million in 2007 to devise an investment which tied to mortgage-related securities that the hedge fund viewed as likely to decline in value. Separately, Paulson took out a form of insurance that allowed it to make a huge profit when those securities' value plunged.

SEC stated that, "Goldman wrongly permitted a client (Paulson) that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective 3rd party."

Goldman's investors of that securities have lost about a billion dollar in less than a year thereafter, while Paulson reaped in its fabulous profit.

In fact, Goldman had been warned on this fraud case, in black-and-white by SEC, as early as in July 2009. The question is: did Buffett knew about that? If he didn't, then why? If he did, well, well, well....

The stock price of Goldman dropped heavily after this allegation, causing Buffett to gave out most of the profit he made earlier in his Goldman deal. However, the blow to Buffett is minimal in monetary wise. The bitter lesson to Buffett is the deteriotation to the reputation and respect which he built for decades, which had won him the title as the "Oracle of Omaha".

Now, all the eyes is staring on him, especially when the AGM of Berkshire Hathaway is just a moment away from now.

All investors make mistakes, including Buffett. But this mistake he made is really very costly. Let's wait what he'll say...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Sunday

Happy Easter SundayToday is Easter Sunday and it marks the days Jesus resurrected to heaven, 3 days after his crucifixion on Good Friday. This is a new beginning for mankind to be free from curse, poverty, sickness and eternal damnation in hell as Jesus took that all away on our behalf. I attended church today and there was a skit put up by my local church especially for non believers. Jesus was scourged even though he knew no sin. You might think this is unfair but that is how it goes. Jesus took the penalty so that we can take his blessings. It was a divine exchange for man. As Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, Easter Sunday marks his ascension into heaven as he rose from the dead to be reunited with our Heavenly Father. Jesus' victory is our victory over the evil one and over death. Hallelujah!
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