World's third-richest man rips Trump's 'arrogance'

Warren Buffett and Donald Trump.
Warren Buffett and Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty

Warren Buffett on Saturday appeared to fault US President Donald Trump for taking too much credit for the nation's economic growth, while acknowledging that market conditions are making it tough for his Berkshire Hathaway to find more big companies to buy.

Mr Buffett lamented these states of affairs in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders.

Berkshire said plunging stock prices and a big writedown for its investment in Kraft Heinz Co led to a US$25.39 billion fourth-quarter loss. Many of its more than 90 businesses, such as the Geico auto insurer and BNSF railroad, performed well.

Mr Buffett, 88, said Berkshire's success has been in part a product of "the American tailwind" that has enabled the country to enjoy "almost unbelievable prosperity".

He said since he began investing in 1942, the prosperity has been overseen by seven Republican and seven Democratic presidents, and gained in a bipartisan manner, even through times of war and financial crisis.

Mr Trump often takes credit for upbeat economic news, including on Twitter.

Mr Buffett, who supported Hillary Clinton in her 2016 White House run, said no one person should do that.

"It is beyond arrogance for American businesses or individuals to boast that they have 'done it alone,'" Mr Buffett wrote.

Mr Buffett, whose company invests in Chinese electric car maker BYD Co, also made a possible oblique criticism of Mr Trump's bragging about US economic performance, including relative to other countries such as China.

It is beyond arrogance for American businesses or individuals to boast that they have 'done it alone.'

Mr Buffett said the United States should 'rejoice' when other countries have bright futures.

"Americans will be both more prosperous and safer if all nations thrive," he wrote. "At Berkshire, we hope to invest significant sums across borders."

The White House was not immediately available for comment. Berkshire did not immediately respond to a request for comment.