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直击巴菲特股东大会:
巴菲特激辩巴菲特法则

Stephen Gandel 2012年05月08日

巴菲特发现自己的纳税比例比自己的助手以及公司里大多数的人都要低,根据这一巴菲特法则提出的提案,要求提高美国富人的税率。在今年的巴菲特股东大会上,巴菲特法则受到了许多人的攻击。很多股东希望巴菲特不要再呼吁给富人加税,因为这会对公司股价造成不良影响。

    上周六,出席伯克希尔-哈撒韦(Berkshire Hathaway)年度股东大会的股东和记者挤满了Century Link会议中心,巴菲特现场解答了几十个问题。很多问题都围绕着巴菲特的一项提案展开。这项提案建议美国制定法案,确保最富有的美国人承担的税率高于美国普通纳税人。大会现场,一位股东称巴菲特在税率问题上畅所欲言损害了公司股价,这一说法赢得了一片掌声。“就冲着你在税率问题上的立场,我84岁的老父亲就不会投资伯克希尔,”这位股东称。

    甚至连巴菲特的长期合作伙伴、一直经营伯克希尔的查理•芒格似乎也不怎么赞同巴菲特的税率观点,虽然芒格声称自己“100%”支持“巴菲特法则”。芒格还表示,不仅仅要关注税收,还要关注政府的支出。芒格说:“我们需要做出更多的牺牲,同时我们需要更合情合理的支出安排。”

    上周五的晚宴上,过去10年一直坚持参加伯克希尔股东年会的投资经理马里奥•盖伯里对与会人士说,他认为巴菲特错在把税率问题过于政治化了,但似乎只有少数人赞成这种观点。盖伯里说:“(他的观点)全是胡扯。”。他让屋子里的人举一下手,看看有谁希望巴菲特从来没有提交过“巴菲特规则”。结果只有寥寥数人。“大家都心知肚明但不吭声,我们不能回避这个问题,”盖伯里说。“这件事对股价产生了负面影响。”

    争强好辩的巴菲特上周六回应说,他同每个公民一样拥有言论自由,成为一家上市公司的CEO并不意味着他放弃了这项权利。“听起来你父亲似乎应当去买福克斯(Fox)的股票,”巴菲特说。“我和查理接受这份工作的时候,并没有人要求我们全盘放弃我们的公民权利。”

    巴菲特说,投资者可以和他有不同意见,但这不应影响人们选择是否决定购买伯克希尔股票。他说,他不知道、也不关心他和伯克希尔所投资公司的很多CEO们到底秉持什么样的政治观点。不过,推断来看,巴菲特不了解这些CEO政治观点的原因是,这些人并没有像巴菲特近来那样直言不讳。

    巴菲特认为许多人误解了他的提案,但并没有就此具体阐述。他说:我的提案只会影响很少的人,但却能筹集到大量现金。

    巴菲特曾经说过,美国最富有的400人中有约三分之一缴纳15%、甚至更低的税率。他说,收入最高的美国人过去承担的税率要高得多,我们应当恢复这种做法。他还说,尽管美国参议院最近投票否决了他的提案,但他很乐观,相信这个提案未来将以某种形式得到采纳。“事情还没完,”巴菲特说。“人们对不平等深感不满。一定会发生些什么变化。”

    Warren Buffett says the 'Buffett Rule' has been "butchered a bit." But that hasn't stopped some shareholders from criticizing him for getting involved in the nation's debate over taxes and what the richest Americans should pay in the first place.

    On Saturday, Buffett fielded dozens of questions from the crowd of shareholders and journalists who packed CenturyLink Center for Berkshire Hathaway's (BRKA) annual meeting. A number of the questions were on his proposal that the U.S. should institute a rule that would guarantee the richest Americans pay higher rates than average tax payers. At one point in the meeting, a shareholder was greeted with applause when he said that Buffett's outspoken position on taxes was hurting the company's stock. "My 84-year-old father won't invest in Berkshire because of your stance on taxes," said the shareholder.

    Even Charlie Munger, Buffett's long-time partner in running Berkshire Hathaway, seemed to somewhat disagree with Buffett on taxes, even though Munger says he is "100%" behind the Buffett Rule. Still, Munger says the focus should not just be on taxes, but how government spends its money as well. "We need more sacrifice and we need more sensible ways of spending money," says Munger.

    At a dinner on Friday night, money manager Mario Gabelli, who has attended Berkshire's annual meetings for the past decade, told a crowd of attendees that he thought Buffett made a mistake by getting too political, though he seemed to be in the minority. "It's BS," said Gabelli. He asked the room to raise their hands if they had wished Buffett hadn't proposed the tax rule. Only a few hands went up. "It's the elephant in the room and we should talk about it," said Gabelli. "It's a negative on the stock."

    A feisty Buffett on Saturday responded that he has a right, like every citizen, to free speech and that he didn't give that up when he became the CEO of a public company. "Sounds like your father should buy stock in Fox," says Buffett. "When I and Charlie took this job we weren't required to put our citizenship in a blind trust."

    Buffett says it's fair to disagree with him, but that he doesn't think that should change anyone's choice to buy or not buy Berkshire's stock. He says he didn't know the political stances of many of the CEOs of the companies that he and Berkshire invests in and didn't care. Though presumably the reason Buffett doesn't know their political stances is because those CEOs have chosen not to be as vocal about them as Buffett has recently.

    Buffett said his proposal has been butchered by others, but he didn't really say how. "It would affect very few people, and raise a significant amount of cash," says Buffett.

    Buffett said about a third of the 400 richest people in America pay a 15% tax rate or less. He said rates used to be much higher for the top earning Americans and that we should restore that. What's more, Buffett said despite recently getting voted down in the Senate, he was optimistic that some form of the rule he has proposed would be adopted. "Not dead," says Buffett, "People are bothered by inequality. Something will happen."

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