Pilgrimage to Omaha; Parsing the Fed: Best of Kass

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners is known for his accurate stock market calls and keen insights into the economy, which he shares with RealMoney Pro readers in his daily trading diary.

Among his posts this past week were entries about his trip to Omaha to grill Warren Buffett and the significance of the latest Fed policy statement.

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My Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha
Originally published on Sunday, May 5 at 11:04 a.m. EDT.

What a truly amazing 48 hours I had in Omaha.

I will have more on Real Money Pro tomorrow, but let me summarize my once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Upon landing in Omaha on Thursday night, I immediately went to meet Lindsey Bell and TheStreet crew at the Omaha Hilton, right across from the convention center where the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting would begin the next morning.

Lindsey did a nice job in the interview, seeking out not only my emotions but also the main subjects on which I planned to grill The Oracle on Saturday.

Here is Lindsey's interview.

I spent the rest of the evening at 801 Chophouse, having an unbelievable steak and editing my questions at the bar and a bit later back at the hotel room.


Friday morning I was on CNBC's "Squawk Box" with Becky Quick and my buddy/friend/pal Mario Gabelli. It was a fun interview on the stage of the convention center that was later to be the locale of the annual shareholders meeting.

Becky asked me how I felt, and I said that I felt like a journeyman pitcher facing my Hall of Famer cousin Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax. What is worse is that I faced two terrific hitters. In the No. 3 position in the batting order was Charlie Munger, with a lifetime batting average of .390, and in the cleanup spot was the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Finance, Warren Buffett.

Nevertheless, in my questions on Saturday, I had hoped to throw the duo a few tough curveballs.

She asked me how I prepared. Similar to Mario, I had been researching stocks, but since Berkshire has been under a microscope, I had to do a deeper dive -- almost as an investigative reporter. Fortunately, I had some experience, having been a Nader Raider and co-authoring Citibank with Ralph Nader and The Center for Responsive Law.


I not only re-read the important books on Berkshire and Buffett (written by Carol Loomis, Alice Schroeder and Roger Lowenstein) but I also spoke to numerous acquaintances (both business and personal), many of whom disclosed previously undisclosed (and some nondisclosable) information that was quite interesting and helpful in the formulation of my questions.

Here is the link to the interview on CNBC.

I now know why this weekend is called "The Woodstock of Capitalism." The action all day in the lobby of the Omaha Hilton was like being at a rock concert for capitalists.

I not only saw numerous business leaders milling around -- including the chairmen of numerous large corporations such as Geico, Coca-Cola , Microsoft and others -- but numerous celebrities, too, such as filmmaker George Lucas.

The pals that accompanied me on the trip to Omaha with (Marty, Miles, Steve, Lee, Harvey, etc.) were no slouches in the executive department -- a bunch of masters of the universe in real estate, money management, finance, advertising and hedge funds, in their own right.

At the time of original publication, Kass was short BRK.B.


Parsing the Fed
Originally published on Wednesday, May 1 at 4:42 p.m. EDT.

Today's FOMC commentary has one significant tweak.

The Fed's commentary today was identical to the previous pronouncement, with the exception of the following statement:

"The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes."

What this means, naturally, is that the Fed, subject to economic conditions (real growth and inflation determined), might either taper off bond buying or increase the purchases.

Though the Fed seems to still believe that QE is effective, as I have repeatedly written, the economic data belie this and suggest that the marginal impact on the real economy is moderating.


If the current trends continue, the Fed will be continuing policy well into next year, potentially continuing the artificiality of many markets and the possible misallocation of capital.

Tomorrow, most expect the European Cenral Bank to cut rates.

As I wrote this week, I expected a sell on the ECB news.

We got it a day early!

The disconnect between the markets and share prices, despite today's fall, remains wider than at almost any time in the last few years, from my perch.

Thanks for reading my diary, and enjoy the evening.

At the time of original publication, had no positions in securities mentioned.

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