A New Comedy Act: Buffett And Gates

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet and Microsoft and Gates Foundation Chairman Bill Gates talk about the economy, estate taxes, charitable deductions, fast food, philanthropy and other topics in an entertaining interview with Fox Business News' Liz Claman.

The two richest men in the world are good friends and fellow bridge players, and Buffet is giving away most of his massive fortune through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates noted that his endowment invested in the market lost 20 percent in the economic downturn. "Strangely, we are proud to have lost 20 percent," he quipped. Regarding proposals to repeal estate taxes, Gates and Buffet are in support of maintaining the tax, which delivers about $25 billion a year to government coffers. Every year about 2,450,000 people die in the U.S., and about 12,000 result in an estate tax return, the wily Buffett calculated. "If you go to a funeral per month, it will be on average 17 years before you would attend an estate tax funeral," he said. "Where do they want to get the $25 billion from? Do they want to get it from my secretary? She already pays a higher tax rate than I do."

Gates told a story of going to China with Buffett, who had some concerns about the cuisine. Buffett got a map of all the McDonald's in China and even brought along coupons for discounts. Gates called his friend Buffett's bridge bidding system antiquated and awful.

Claman referenced an interview with Charlie Rose in which Buffett said that Google has a wide "moat of competitiveness" with "crocodiles and sharks that no one can get near." Gates countered, "Technology companies do for a period of time get in these wonderful positions. It's great that there is someone willing to attack these moats. Microsoft is undeterred. We look at each crocodile and say 'charge.' "

Buffett chimed in, noting Gates' legendary competitiveness, "No shark wants to come up against him."


  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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