The letter revealed that during 2020, Berkshire repurchased nearly $25 billion of its own shares, dwarfing the previous high of $5 billion in 2019.
But if Buffett’s readers were hoping for pearls of wisdom related to the pandemic, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, last summer’s national reckoning over race or the political state of the country, he didn’t offer any — at least directly. He simply offered a statement of his general bullishness on America’s future prospects.
In an apparent allusion to the pandemic, he said the country’s economy has survived “severe interruptions” before. And he noted that the nation’s progress toward a more perfect union “has been slow, uneven and often discouraging.”
“We have, however, moved forward and will continue to do so,” he said. “Our unwavering conclusion: Never bet against America.”
To Cathy Seifert, who analyzes Berkshire stock for CFRA Research, Buffett’s failure to directly address the nation’s most consequential issues made the letter come off as tone-deaf.
“The big takeaway from the letter was quite frankly what it omitted,” she said. “I was a little shocked and stunned and disappointed that given the nature of what’s going on in this country over the last year, from the pandemic, all the social issues and the existential threat to our democracy, that nothing of that filtered into the letter.”