Warren Buffett’s business partner defends his virtually windowless mega-dorm – and rails against a planned tax on stock buybacks

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger sitting for a CNBC interview in May 2021.
Charlie Munger (left) and Warren Buffett.
  • Charlie Munger defended his controversial mega-dorm and issued an inflation warning.
  • Warren Buffett's business partner railed against a proposed tax on stock buybacks.
  • Munger suggested the government overstimulated the economy, and ruled out investing in SPACs.

Warren Buffett's right-hand man defended his idea for a virtually windowless mega-dormitory, blasted President Biden's plan to tax stock buybacks, and rang the inflation alarm in a CNN interview this week.

Who needs windows?

Charlie Munger has come under fire for bankrolling a college dorm - at the University of California, Santa Barbara - on the condition that it's built to his specifications. The billionaire investor and amateur architect's design calls for 94% of the building's single-occupancy rooms to not have windows.

Munger, the 97-year-old vice-chairman of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, told CNN that each bedroom would have a digital window that mimics the lighting outside and can be brightened or dimmed.

"Imagine having a window that you can't tell is artificial by looking at it, but you can change the amount of sunlight coming through," he said. "It's better than a real window."

The investor also shrugged off the recent departure of an architect from the Munger Hall project, and the scathing resignation letter that accompanied it.

"When an ignorant man leaves, I regard it as a plus, not a minus," Munger said.

Buybacks, inflation, and SPACs

Munger slammed the Biden administration's plan to levy a 1% surcharge on stock buybacks to help finance its spending as "literally insane."

"It's so irrational, and I think it sort of destroys the whole system, once you start tinkering from Washington," the investor told CNN. Berkshire could be hit hard by the proposed tax, given it plowed $37 billion into buybacks in the 18 months to June 30.

Buffett's longtime business partner praised the Federal Reserve's interventions during the pandemic, and called for the central bank's chairman, Jerome Powell, to be reappointed. On the other hand, he suggested that Congress and the White House injected too much stimulus into the economy, enabling people to work less and exacerbating labor shortages.

"We kind of overdid it a little bit, in retrospect," he said.

Notably, Munger backed Sen. Elizabeth Warren's push to tighten banking and financial regulations, even though Berkshire counts Bank of America and American Express among its largest investments. He also described rising US inflation as the "early harbinger of eventual trouble," echoing recent warnings from other top investors and business executives.

Finally, Munger ruled out a bet on Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special-purpose acquisition company poised to merge with Donald Trump's media business.

"I never invest in SPACs," Munger said. "They reflect discredit on humanity."

Read more: Mario Gabelli has racked up a 7,000% gain on Berkshire Hathaway stock. The billionaire investor explains why he likes Robinhood, still backs Warren Buffett, and worries about the Fed taper.

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