The first Saturday of March is a special day for me, as that is traditionally the morning when Warren Buffett’s annual report and shareholder’s letter is released (though last year he surprised me by releasing it late Friday afternoon). Reading his letters are invaluable. I will share some highlights of this year’s letter when it is released.
As Buffett made a huge gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffet encouraged Bill Gates to write an annual letter, which was released earlier this week. It is fascinating reading and incredible, both in the poverty and medical problems in other parts of the world and the significant efforts that Gates and his wife Melinda are making, both financially and with their time, in an attempt to address and cure some of these problems.
For example, in 1960, almost 20 million children died under the age of 5, of the 110 million children born. In 2005, when more than 135 million children were born, fewer than 10 million children under the age of 5 died. Gates called this “one of the most amazing statistics ever.” His Foundation is focusing on vaccines to cut the 10 million figure in half again within the next 20 years.
I highly recommend reading this report. It will give you an appreciation of how well off so many of us are, and the steps that Gates is taking to address many of the world’s problems. For more information and the full annual letter, see gatesfoundation.org.
In commenting on the world’s economic issues, Gates wrote: “If you take a longer timeframe, such as five to ten years, I am very optimistic that these problems will be behind us. A key reason for this is that innovation in every field-from software and materials science to genetics and energy generation-is moving forward at a pace that can bring real progress in solving big problems. These innovations will help improve the world and reinvigorate the world economy.”