By Michael E. Russell
After many years running the most politically active financial empire, Socialist George Soros is passing the baton of his $27 billion Open Society Foundation to his son, Alex.
Those of us who cringed at many of George Soros’s comments and investment strategies longed for the day when he would retire. Unfortunately, the elder Soros who contributed unabashedly in excess of $1.5 billion to extreme causes has picked the second youngest of his five children to be the Foundation Chair. Alex will also serve as President of the Soros super PAC and is the only family member on the investment committee for Soros Fund Management, a private investment management firm.
The younger Soros will now oversee a philanthropic empire, funded from the many billions that George Soros made from finance. I am sure that many readers are impressed by his financial acumen. However, those of us who worked in the field remember that in 1992 Soros shorted the British Pound and reportedly made a profit of $1 billion dollars. Unfortunately, he almost broke the Bank of England! A hero to some, certainly not me. I will leave it to the readers to do their own research on the Soros empire. Just trying to get you motivated to see how some people get filthy rich.
Allow me to mention an investment icon to look up to, Warren Buffett. At 92 years of age, he appears to be as sharp and engaged as ever. Mr. Buffett has been extremely active in the stock market this year, as well as last year, highlighted by the purchase of 25% of Occidental Petroleum. He probably read my article last month about how I felt the Japanese market was undervalued because he now has holdings in five Japanese trading companies worth $20 billion dollars. Once again, another reason to subscribe to TBR News Media. I believe he has done very well on his own without my advice. Buffett’s Apple purchase is now worth more than $165 billion dollars, quite a bit more than the $30 billion he invested.
In 1965, Warren Buffett took over Berkshire Hathaway. Due to his efforts over the past 58 years, the fund generates $35 billion dollars in annual earnings power. A $20 dollar investment in 1965 is now worth more than $500,000, an incredible $25,000-fold increase. No wonder he calls Berkshire Hathaway his Mona Lisa.
Another financial icon who I admire is Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. Jamie has few peers in his field. His advice is sought by many world leaders when he travels abroad. JP Morgan Chase is now the country’s top bank, putting distance between itself and Bank of America, the bank that loves charging client fees.
Jamie has proven to be an exceptional CEO. The bank had a very strong 2022 when it had the highest return on tangible equity among its peers. Dimon avoided huge losses experienced by Bank of America by not investing assets in bonds at historically low rates in 2020 and 2021. JP Morgan stock returned 30% last year, tops among its rivals. Jamie Dimon was the leading advisor to Federal Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. I would have preferred that they had listened to him more often. Hopefully, now they have him on speed dial.
As far as the market — we can look for further rate increases due to continued inflation concerns. For those of us looking for safety, a 5% 2-year Treasury bill looks attractive. My favorite stock, Nvidia, has paused recently closing at $422, up a mere 195% year to date.
For those of you Crypto folks, Tether’s stablecoin will rake in $6 billion dollars of profits this year. Tether Holdings is the issuer of the largest stable coin which are like crypto cash. Typically, they hold a $1 price backed 1/1 in reserves. It now has $83 billion dollars in deposits. With rates increasing, Bitcoin and most of crypto have dropped in value, while Tether has become the world’s most profitable digital asset. It has kept most of its assets in U.S. treasury bills; a 5% return on $83 billion dollars is not chump change.
I hope most readers realize that some things that I write are meant to be tongue in cheek, however not all! Have a wonderful July 4th and God Bless America.
Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor.