Buffett During the Credit Crisis – Great Interview

Download 2009-12-12 In Year of Investing Dangerously, Buffett Looked 'Into the Abyss' – WSJ.com

On March 28, 2008, Mr. Buffett, Berkshire's chairman, took a call from Richard Fuld, then head of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Mr. Fuld wanted to know whether Mr. Buffett would inject about $4 billion into the investment bank to stanch losses.

That night, in his offices in Omaha, Neb., Mr. Buffett pored over Lehman's annual financial report. On the cover, he jotted down the numbers of pages where he found troubling information. When he was done, the cover was dotted with numbers. He didn't bite. Six months later, Lehman filed for bankruptcy protection.

"Everybody was looking for money in those days," Mr. Buffett recalls.

He didn't say no to everyone. He invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and $3 billion in General Electric Co. But for Berkshire shareholders, the bigger story may be the deals that he passed up.

"I don't think Buffett gets enough credit for all the pitches he doesn't swing at," says Paul Howard, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott. "And he gets a lot of pitches."

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