"There aren’t many billion dollar plus ideas in India" | Outlook Business
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Dave Weaver

A Weekend In Omaha 2014

"There aren't many billion dollar plus ideas in India"
In an exclusive interview, Warren Buffett says the lack of enough large sized companies has deterred Berkshire from investing in India

N Mahalakshmi & Rajesh Padmashali

History does not tell you the probability of future financial things happening, what blind spots worry you?

Understanding the history of the markets is enormously important. I have probably spent more time — certainly before I was 20 years old — learning what markets have done in the past and what human behavior has done in the past than a small percentage of people would spend in a lifetime, or find interesting, for that matter. 

How humans behave is enormously important for us to understand and you do learn a lot about that from reading history. Humans will behave the same way in many important aspects 500 years from now as they have 500 years ago. Then, the question is: what conditions prevailed that led them to behave in that manner? The answer will tell you a lot about the dangers that couldn’t present themselves and the opportunities missed as well. If you understand this, you will be prepared, perhaps, to do some things that most people won’t do when fear or greed exists.

Anything specific that you are watching out for?

I hope I am watching out for everything: that is my job, we’ll see if I do it or not. My job is to think about all the bad things that can happen to Berkshire and look out for some good things.” 

Why has Berkshire Hathaway stayed away from investing in India and other emerging markets?

Part of the reason is that the companies are too small for us; they may not be too small for our subsidiaries or even the couple of the investors in the office. I really have to work on very big things now and there aren’t a lot of those companies. I know companies like Marmon, Iscar, Lubrizol are doing things in India and other countries. But those managements do that. If there is a really big opportunity, I would love it. But if you are talking about a billion dollar plus ideas, there aren’t many. Find me one, though.

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