The world’s richest man, Warren Buffett, also suffered through troubled economic times in 2008. His company posted its 2008 numbers which were the worst since he founded the company.
Buffett has the most diversified set of stocks (insurance, oil, food, retail and manufacturing) in his firm, Berkshire Hathaway. But despite that cushion, his stocks stumbled 9.6 per cent in 2008 because of the global economic slowdown. The results were shown in the company's annual report.
Berkshire’s net income fell to $4.99 billion in 2008 compared to $13.21 billion in 2007. Even though they posted a profit, it's still depressing for Buffett, as he wants to protect his shareholders.
Buffett wrote in a letter to his shareholders saying the company lost $11.5 billion dollars of its net worth in 2008.
“...investors of all stripes were bloodied and confused, much as if they were small birds that had strayed into a badminton game."
He was referring to the real estate and credit crises in the U.S.
Buffet also said 2008's performance was the worst since they formed Berkshire Hathaway in 1965.
He blamed himself for a mistake he committed in 2008. The company invested big in the petroleum company ConocoPhillips but because of rapid declines in the price of a barrel of oil, his company lost several billion dollars.
Buffett told shareholders to expect worse in 2009:
"One likely consequence is an onslaught of inflation. Moreover, major industries have become dependent on Federal assistance, and they will be followed by cities and states bearing mind-boggling requests. The economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 -- and, for that matter, probably well beyond."
You can read the full letter here.