“In these dark days, we tend to look for little shafts of light that spill from heaven” is the beginning of one of the great comic letters of all time. We do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon us from time to time. So we propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated our sombre lives. On a recent dark December night in Carlton Gardens, we hailed a London taxi that turned out to be one of only two Berkshire Hathaway branded taxis among the 20,000 licensed here in London. It turned out that Berkshire Hathaway Home Services had bought its first real estate brokerage in the United Kingdom and fitted out two taxis in celebration. As you can see, the taxi driver was as cheered as we were by the occasion and we have his number in case you are looking for a taxi in London.
We need a bit of cheer as we reflect on the year just passed. This time last year we said that we thought it would be a year in which politics would be in turmoil but the global economy, the US and Europe foremost, would do well. Growth, employment and incomes would all increase. Inflation would be sustained but moderate (after years of feared deflation). Central banks would raise rates at a reasonable pace, striking a balance between growth and inflation. Ten years after the financial crisis we could finally feel that we had put the worst behind us even if we still suffered from its impact in politics and other ways.
We also said that economic turning points like the one we are currently experiencing would come with volatility as markets and investors had to adapt to the reality of growth, inflation and rising interest rates. We thought that companies in general would also do well, and none more so than the global leaders we invest in for our portfolios that have the quality and value we look for in everything we do, alongside the opportunity, innovation and pricing power to grow and to offset inflation.