California: Warren Buffett said more US banks are likely to fail, but depositors should be confident they won’t lose any of their funds.
“We are not through with bank failures,” the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO said in an interview on CNBC Wednesday. “Dumb decisions” by bank managers shouldn’t be “panicking the whole citizenry of the United States about something they don’t need to be panicked about.”
Buffett said he’s willing to wager that no depositor will lose any money in the next year. Still, the billionaire investor warned that troubled bank stocks aren’t value investments because shareholders are likely to be wiped out even if the government moves to protect depositors.
“They’re not gonna save the stockholders,” Buffett said after being asked if battered regional bank stocks including First Republic Bank would be a “steal.”
Buffett said the structure of the Federal Deposit Insurance - which collects assessments from the banks with deposits it insures - means the federal government won’t lose money as it resolves failed banks.
“The public has the impression the FDIC is the US government,” Buffett said. “But the cost of the FDIC, including the cost of their employees and everything, are borne by the banks. So banks have never cost the federal government a dime.”
Berkshire’s sales of bank stocks aren’t critiques of management of those banks, Buffett said, but instead speak to his cooling sentiment on the sector more broadly.
Buffett called out Bank of America as one bank he still favors.
“I like Brian Moynihan enormously,” Buffett said of the lender’s CEO. “I just don’t want to sell it.”