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Warren Buffett (on CNBC) on the Tax-Code Changes, January 2018

“We’re in Omaha, let’s say you had bought the Union Pacific Railroad yourself, like we bought the BNSF, and you had bought it a year or two ago, you could have bought 100% of the stock, but the U.S. government would have had a super stock that was entitled to 35% of the earnings. And they had just changed that without you paying them a penny to where there’s – they now have 21% of the stock. In effect, you bought in their 14%, 40% of what they had for nothing. I mean, it’d be like I gave 14% of Berkshire back to Berkshire for nothing. Would that make the remaining shares more valuable? Of course it would. And so you’ve had this major change in the silent stockholder in American business who has been content with 35% – now there’s various things about foreign earnings and all that, but 35% of a basic – our basic businesses. And now instead of getting a 35% interest on their earnings they get a 21%, and that makes the remaining stock more valuable.

Well, it’s a big deal. How much of it has been baked in as people started thinking ‘maybe there would be the tax bill and how big would it be’. I think that – 21% was not baked in, that’s a huge, huge reduction. If you and I were partners in a business and you owned 35% of it and I own 65%, and then you showed up one day and said ‘I’m giving you 14 of my 35 points,’ now my interest has gone from 65% to 79%. That’s more than a 20% increase in the earning power, and you’ve just given it to me. Nothing has changed in the business that’s – it’s a big factor. Now, they can take it away too. Go the other direction.”

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