The Oracle of Omaha laid bare
This excellent documentary focuses on one of the most singular characters of our time: billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
You don’t need to be interested in the ins and outs of value investing to enjoy this 80-minute HBO production (but it probably helps). Its subject matter will not be new, however, to those obsessive Buffett-watchers who pounce on his annual letter (released just last week), or those who read Alice Schroeder’s excellent biography The Snowball, published in 2008.
In 2009, The New York Times reported that Buffett — the “Oracle of Omaha” — had cooled on Schroeder after seeing his sometimes complicated personal life laid out in black and white. So it is curious that he agreed to be involved with this documentary and, by extension, to permit the involvement of his children, associates such as Charlie Munger and friends including fellow billionaire Bill Gates.
Of course there are things you can capture in a documentary that you can’t in a book, such as the 86-year-old driving to work, stopping at the McDonald’s drive-in, and discussing at length the criteria for spending between $2.95 and $3.17.
The other thought that occurs is how important the relationship with his business partner Munger has been. In Buffett’s words, Munger famously encouraged him to start buying “wonderful companies at fair prices rather than fair companies at wonderful prices”, a turning point in his investing career.
The documentary also leaves the somewhat sad impression of a man who sought to build a moat around his investments, but in doing so, in his late wife Susie’s words, built something of a moat around himself. Showcase. Sunday, 8.30pm,
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is the subject of a fascinating documentary