Citing a decline in gains from insurance underwriting and sluggish investment returns, holding company Berkshire Hathaway said today that fourth-quarter income was off 18%—to $2.95 billion, from $3.58 billion—from a year earlier, the Wall Street Journal reports. Billionaire chairman Warren Buffett snuck in digs at Wall Street and the federal government while effectively promising declining profit margins for years to come.
“That party is over,” Buffett wrote of Berkshire’s brisk business in insurance underwriting, where profits are down almost 50%. The financier's new subsidiary to bail out or poach business from flailing bond insurers—whose “financial folly” he blames for the economic downturn—is already looking good. Buffett also implicated the US government, criticizing “actions likely to evoke retaliatory behavior that will reduce America's exports.”