Billionaire money manager Ken Fisher’s balance sheet is nearly $2 billion lighter than it was last month, all because he joked about sex on stage at a business conference. But maybe it’s his clients and our politically correct culture that need to lighten up. Fellow billionaire investor Warren Buffett has drawn similar sexual analogies to illustrate business concepts for decades.
After Fisher made an off-color joke about discussing genitalia during his “fireside chat” at the Tiburon CEO Summit earlier this month, a conference attendee took to Twitter to voice his outrage and “disgust.” This set off a media firestorm, with CNBC digging up another sexual comment Fisher made at a conference in June 2018:
“I mean the, the most stupid thing that you can do which is what every mutual fund firm in the world always did was to brag about performance in a direct mail piece, which is like walking into a bar when you’re a single guy and want to get laid, and walking up to some girl and saying ‘Hey, you wanna have sex?'”
Fisher responded to the scandal with an apology:
“I realize this kind of language has no place in our company or industry.”
But this kind of language has had a place in the finance industry for decades. Warren Buffett has been making sexual remarks and analogies to investors for nearly 50 years!
In a 2017 interview with Becky Quick on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Warren Buffett explained why Berkshire made a bid to buy Unilever even though the consumer goods conglomerate was not interested:
“Well, if a diplomat says yes, he means maybe. If he says maybe, he means no. And if he says no, he’s no diplomat. And if a lady says no, she means maybe. And if she says maybe, she means yes. And if she says yes, she’s no lady.”
In his 2013 annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders , Warren Buffett wrote:
“A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.”
In the same letter, regarding Berkshire’s flexibility with capital allocation, Buffett quoted a Woody Allen line:
“The advantage of being bi-sexual is that it doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.”
In the 2007 annual letter, Warren Buffett compared failed acquisitions to going to bed with an ugly woman:
“I’ll make more mistakes in the future – you can bet on that. A line from Bobby Bare’s country song explains what too often happens with acquisitions: ‘I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly woman, but I’ve sure woke up with a few.’
In 1985, regarding Berkshire’s ability to be patient with the progress of its investments, Buffett wrote :
“No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
“I feel like an oversexed guy on a desert island. I can’t find anything to buy.”
Is the Oracle of Omaha going to be the next victim of cancel culture?
The fallout from Ken Fisher making sexual remarks not unlike Warren Buffett’s has been tremendous. Fidelity Investments announced it’s pulling the $500 million it had under Fisher Investments’ care. After losing $600 million in assets under management for the state of Michigan’s pension funds earlier this month, Fisher’s outflows have now topped $1.8 billion.
Conference attendee Alex Chalekian made the tweet that set off the media scandal:
In the tweeted video, Chalekian calls Fisher’s comments “horrifying.” Honestly, what is horrifying about genitalia? Newsflash: Humans have genitalia. None of the conference-goers still believe they were delivered to their parents by the stork.
You could say that Fisher’s comments were inappropriate for the event, words better suited for an open mic night at a comedy club than at a business meeting. But is suffering nearly $2 billion in outflows really a sane reaction to this?
After sending the tweet that brought down Ken Fisher, the same Alex Chalekian actually had the nerve to tweet this a few days later:
At worst, Fisher’s comments at the conference were a harmless mistake. And they were harmless. No one got hurt. There was nothing mean-spirited nor hateful in what he said. His remarks also weren’t “sexist” as many journalists have described them. They were sexual, but they weren’t sexist. In no way do they demean women or suggest that women are inferior to men.
Chalekian argues that comments like these are sexist because they make women “uncomfortable.” But it’s actually the Fisher hate-mob that’s being sexist here. They’re lumping all women together and presuming that, because of their gender, they all must react a certain way.
This attitude condescends to women by deploying the creaky, Victorian fainting couch trope of fragile women who need to be protected from any reference to sexuality. This isn’t progressive; it’s puritanical. This isn’t empowering; it’s condescending. This isn’t feminist – it’s paternalistic.