China, already beset by a worrying real estate bubble, is now grappling with surging prices for a dinner table staple closer to home – garlic.
The world’s largest producer of the pungent bulbs, China has seen wholesale prices rocket as much as 15-fold since March in large cities such as Beijing, forced up in part by a combination of reduced acreage being planted by local farmers because of the recession – and a belief that garlic can keep away swine flu.
Schools have been hoarding garlic for pupils to eat because of its reputed properties in warding off swine flu. The China Daily has reported that a high school in Hangzhou in eastern China, bought 200 kg of garlic and made students eat it at lunch to keep healthy.
Also supplies have been cut because farmers in China and elsewhere slashed plantings when prices collapsed in the financial crisis.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
CHARLIE ROSE: Warren Buffett is here. As you know, he is perhaps the world’s most respected investor. He’s also chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
He has been on this program many times. I last spoke with him over a year ago at the peak of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. At that time, he said that America had been struck by an economic Pearl Harbor, but much has changed since then, and he’s here to tell us how he views a global and American economy in recovery.
His own company reflects the progress made in recent months. Last week, Berkshire Hathaway struck a $26 billion deal to buy all of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, the largest acquisition in company history. He called the deal an all-in wager on the American economy. He is in New York for a town hall event that he held with Bill Gates at Columbia University yesterday. He graciously agreed to stay over in New York an extra night, and I am pleased to have a good friend of this program and a good friend of mine back at this table. Welcome.
WARREN BUFFETT: Thank you, Charlie. Pleased to be here.
CHARLIE ROSE: Great to see you. It has been, certainly from the middle of 2008 to the middle of 2009, one incredible year.
WARREN BUFFETT: One incredible year. One to a lifetime, I hope.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes. Tell me about it for you.
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it was-- it really was an extraordinary time in this country. We came closer to a financial meltdown than certainly any time I have ever seen, and probably in certain respects even -- there was even more panic than the Great Depression, because it came on so fast and so unexpected.
And the whole country wanted to deleverage, corporations, individuals, and fortunately we had a government that responded. It was -- when we talked last, it was a little question of whether Congress would respond like they should. They finally did, and I -- I felt they would in the end. I mean, in the end, they come together for things that are this vital to the country. But we had the right people in Washington. If we’d had a group that behaved like a deer in the headlines, that deer would have gotten run over.
CHARLIE ROSE: So Paulson and Bernanke and Geithner were the right people at the right time, and you don’t know what might have happened if others had been in those positions of power.
WARREN BUFFETT: I can think of others-- I’m not going to name them-- but I can think of others where the ending would have been with us in the abyss rather than just peering down into it.
CHARLIE ROSE: You made some investments during that period.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Lisa Williams. I'm from South Orange, New Jersey. I'm currently a first-year at the MBA program. Glad to have you both here. My question is actually for Mr. Buffett. There has been a lost of discussion around the true drivers with the recent deal with Burlington Northern. I was wondering if you could share with us your key motivation for wanting to increase exposure to the railroad sector at this time.
BUFFETT: You know, when I was six, I wanted a railroad set and my dad didn't get it. [APPLAUSE] You think about it. The railroads are tied to the future prosperity of this country. You can't move a railroad to China or India or anyplace else. We start out with the premise, and I can't think of a more sound premise, that there will be more people in this country, 10, 20, 30 years from now. They will be moving more and more goods back and forth to each other. And you have the most environmentally friendly and the most cost-efficient way of doing that on the railroads. The Burlington Northern last year moved -- on average it moved a ton of freight, 470 miles on one gallon of diesel. That is far, far more efficient than what takes place over the highways. You have the situation where overall they use 1/3 less fuel, they put far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere than trucks will. One train will supplant 280 trucks are so on the road. So the rails are in tune with the future. I like the West. I like the 30-some-thousand miles of roadway that Burlington has. And, you know, if this country has a poor future, the rails have a poor future. I'm willing to bet a lot of money, 34 billion to be specific -- [LAUGHTER] -- on the fact that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now, there will be more and more goods being moved by rail and better for the country and it will be better for the shareholders of the Burlington Northern.
QUESTION: I'm Peter Lawrence, first-year student from Columbia. And, first of all, thank you both so much for coming here. Mr. Buffett, the recent runup in the market has been historic. And it seems that many people question the sustainability of the current price level. Do you think the rally is for real?
BUFFETT: What's going to happen tomorrow, huh? [APPLAUSE] Let me give you an illustration. I bought my first stock in 1942. I was 11. I had been dillydallying up until then. I got serious. [LAUGHTER] What do you think the best year for the market has been since 1942? Best calendar year from 1942 to the present time. Well, there's no reason for you to know the answer. The answer is 1954. In 1954, the Dow … dividends was up 50%. Now if you look at 1954, we were in a recession a good bit of that time. The recession started in July of '53. Unemployment peaked in September of '54. So until November of '54 you hadn't seen an uptick in the employment figure. And the unemployment figure more than doubled during that period. It was the best year there was for the market. So it's a terrible mistake to look at what's going on in the economy today and then decide whether to buy or sell stocks based on it. You should decide whether to buy or sell stocks based on how much you're getting for your money, long-term value you're getting for your money at any given time. And next week doesn't make any difference because next week, next week is going to be a week further away. And the important thing is to have the right long-term outlook, evaluate the businesses you are buying. And then a terrible market or a terrible economy is your friend. I don't care, in making a purchase of the Burlington Northern, I don't care whether next week, or next month or even next year there is a big revival in car loadings or any of that sort of thing. A period like this gives me a chance to do things. It's silly to wait. I wrote an article. If you wait until you see the robin, spring will be over.
BECKY: All right. Welcome back, everybody. Welcome back to class. We have left that last break waiting for an answer from Bill Gates. Bill, if you had to pick one thing that makes you stand out from everyone else, what would that be?
GATES: Well, we talked about some of the basics, having great people around you, reading a lot, thinking long-term. I also think, though, there become a few magic moments where you have to have confidence in yourself. You know, Warren when he set off on his own, he could have gone and taken a job as an analyst somewhere. But he knew that he had the skill, that he was going to raise money and have his own partnership. When I dropped out of Harvard and said to my friends, ‘Come work for me,’ there was a certain kind of brass self-confidence in that. You have a few moments like that where trusting yourself and saying yes, this can come together -- you have to seize on those because not many come along.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
''He goes to work happy every day, and so many of us go to work looking forward to the weekend,'' she said. Loving what you do is so much more important than making money, he advised.
Finkle said many comments made a deep impression on him as well, but one he'll never forget was in response to Finkle's own question about the most influential people in Buffett's life.
Among those Buffett named was a friend who was a Polish Jew, taken to a World War II concentration camp after an acquaintance reported the friend's hiding place to the Germans.
Buffett said ever since hearing that story, ''when he would begin friendships, he would ask the question: Would this person hide me from the Nazis?''
''He then went on to say that one of the most important things [if not the most important] was unconditional love. If you can find two or three people who love you unconditionally, you are a lucky person.''