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  • Frank Tian

Another $1M Bet from Buffett

📱 A Missed Voicemail


In September 2008, the then-president of Barclays, Bob Diamond, left a voicemail for Mr. Buffett, attempting to secure an insurance from Berkshire Hathaway for the purchase of Lehman Brothers, which was Lehman’s last chance.


However, Buffett did not notice the voicemail and therefore did not respond. It was not until the following summer that his daughter saw the voicemail and played it for him.


Though Buffett most likely would not have been involved in Lehman's deal, the financial crisis led many to seek help from the Oracle of Omaha. Within 30 days after Lehman’s collapse, Buffett instilled 16 billion into multiple businesses including Goldman Sachs and General Electric.


🛬 Visitors in Omaha


Fast forward to 2023, a regional banking crisis was rapidly unfolding.


During the weekend of March 19, ~20 private jets landed in Omaha, with some flying in from cities where multiple regional banks’ headquarters are located.


Is this to make sure Buffet would not miss a call or voicemail again? Nobody is sure.


Later on, it was reported Buffett did provide advice to the White House on how to deal with the banking crisis.


By the end of March, the banking crisis was contained, after a series of actions choreographed by the White House, regulators, and the banking industry.


💰 The $1M Bet


On April 12, Buffett appeared on CNBC.


He did not rule out more bank failures - after all, there are too many of them. However, he assured the safety of bank deposits.


Buffett was so sure that he offered a $1 million bet - not a single American would lose deposit in the rest of 2023.


Last time Buffett offered a $1 million bet was in 2007. He bet passive investment via an index fund would beat hedge funds’ active investment in the next 10 years.


Hedge fund Protégé’s co-founder Ted Seides took the bet. Eventually he conceded defeat to Buffett.


With his stellar business and side-bet records, Buffett opened another bet.


“If any American depositor has lost money from a bank failure, the other soul gets to name where the $2 million goes, to what charity,” he said. “If they haven’t, I get the payment. And that’s a firm offer, and we’ll see who steps up.”


Any takers this time?


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