Debt

Warren Buffett Gets An Offer He Can't Refuse

Warren Buffett's testifying at a hearing next week on the role of ratings agencies in the financial crisis. But not by choice.

A few weeks back, Buffett got a letter from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The letter asked if Buffett was willing to be interviewed in private to discuss his views on derivatives, ratings agencies and other issues.

After that, the letter said, "we may request that you appear before the Commission at a hearing."

Buffett had his assistant reply that, while he was flattered by the invitation, he was busy running Berkshire Hathaway and would be unable to speak to the commission. (Berkshire owns a big chunk of Moody's, a ratings agency.)

He believed that a private interview, followed by hearings, would not be a good use of anyone's time, according to a story in Fortune by a writer identified as a friend of Buffett's and a Berkshire shareholder.

After a bit more back and forth, the FCIC apparently gave up on asking nicely. Earlier this week, Buffett received a subpoena from the commission. "YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to appear and give testimony," it said.

So Buffett will testify next Wednesday afternoon at session called "Credit Ratings and the Financial Crisis." He'll be joined by the CEO of Moody's.

For more on ratings agencies and the the crisis, check out The Watchmen a Planet Money project that aired last year on This American Life.

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