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My Weakness for Warren (Buffett) Is Waning

Last Updated May 4, 2009 7:41 PM EDT

The Common Sense Conservative is down on Warren Buffett. He's fed up with CNBC's sycophantic coverage of Saturday's Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting but more to the point, he thinks it's time for someone to challenge the "Oracle of Omaha" (erroneously referenced as the "Sage of Omaha" in Saturday's FT). Since I'm reading Alice Schroeder's Buffett biography "Snowball" (which could have been subtitled, "a 976-page love letter to Warren"), maybe it's time for me to question my own crush on Buffett.

Everyone eats up Buffett's spiel -- home-spun, easy-to-understand, value-oriented investment genius. I like it too, but he's also a human being. That means that he makes mistakes. On Saturday, he told shareholders that 2008 was a rough year and that 2009 wasn't looking too rosy either. I like that kind of honesty-- there's no sugar coating a 62 percent decline in year-over-year profits. But still, that's pretty lousy performance for a guy who probably should have known a little bit better.

Given that Berkshire got creamed on its derivatives position, let's agree to stop citing the Buffett metaphor that derivatives are "financial weapons of mass destruction." And by the way, not all derivatives are created equal. As a former commodity options trader, that quote always made me a little queasy.
And while Buffett's partner Charlie Munger is not Buffett, I'm going to (unfairly) lump them together and take umbrage at the comment that Bank of America "behaved honorably and intelligently." BofA CEO Ken Lewis has been called many things, but honorable is not one of them.

All in all, I still love Buffett, but as in any lengthy relationship, we're in rut right now. I'm sure that with a little therapy, or a strong bull market, we'll get through it just fine.
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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.