Weil on Finance: Berkshire Pay Dividends? No Way

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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This guy thinks he can invest Berkshire Hathaway's cash better than Warren Buffett can.

Some investor who has about $8,650 of Berkshire stock submitted a proposal asking the company's board to consider paying a "meaningful" dividend, showing that he has much to learn about Warren Buffett. Think about it: What are the odds that the man renowned as the greatest investor of all time would ever conclude that Berkshire shareholders have better ideas for investing the company's cash than he does? The proposal may be a waste of time, but at least it was good for some yucks.

A must-read on corruption in financial media.

If you haven't seen Richard Pearson's takedown of a stock-touting operation by a promoter called Dream Team, you should. The piece, at Seeking Alpha, begins: "I was asked to write paid promotional articles on Galena Biopharma and CytRx Corp., without disclosing payment. Rather than refuse outright, I decided to investigate." What he found was that insiders at the companies were editing the articles and timing stock sales around their publication. The author's note at the top of the piece says that "at least 13 recent articles covering CytRx have been removed from circulation at Seeking Alpha, Wall Street Cheat Sheet, Motley Fool and Forbes." And in total, "more than 100 articles tied to the Dream Team have now been removed from circulation in just the past two days."

Gretchen Morgenson on the Justice Department's fraudulent fraud-prosecution statistics .

Writing about the inspector-general report released last week, the New York Times columnist says: "Most of all, the report is depressing because it indicates that the Justice Department, our nation's top law enforcement agency, is simply unequipped — or unwilling — to combat complex financial frauds." And remember Lanny Breuer, who used to head up Justice's criminal division and has since returned to white-shoe work at his old law firm Covington & Burling? Morgenson called asking him to explain why he used to say that prosecutions related to the mortgage mess were a top priority, when now we know they weren't. But he declined to comment. Of course, what was he going to say?

Here's another reason for the U.S. to stick with GAAP and not adopt international accounting standards .

Even their future in Europe is in doubt. From the Telegraph in the U.K.: "The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation's role in governing global accounting rules is under threat after European politicians said they were questioning whether the authority was `best suited' to the position. The London-based authority, responsible for setting standards in 100 countries, has been severely criticized by [European Parliament members] for poor governance structures, a lack of transparency and its `close links to the accounting industry.'"

What's wrong with the SAT ?

The test indicates nothing more than family income, writes James Murphy, who has been an SAT teacher and tutor for the Princeton Review . The problem isn't test prep, but the test, which has no educational benefit: "The main reason test prep isn't going anywhere is that, as long as a superficial, high stakes test remains an important aspect of competitive college admissions, there will be no shortage of people looking for some advantage," he writes for the Atlantic.

Friends don't let friends get a lip tattoo like the one Miley Cyrus has.

It's on the inside of her lower lip. That's just messed up.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanweil.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net