NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It took a subpoena, but Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) CEO Warren Buffett is in New York City on Wednesday to testify before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission of Congress on the issue of credit ratings.
No word if Buffett "came by rail," as he advised Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to use in traveling to the Buffett company's annual meeting this year after its mega-acquisition of Burlington Northern railroad. Maybe Buffett flagged down one of his NetJets luxury planes for the trip from Omaha to New York City. In any event, the important point is that Buffett made it clear he did not want to come and testify using any means of transportation.
While Buffett loves showing up on CNBC whenever it suits his purposes -- most recently to talk up Berkshire Hathaway at the May annual meeting, and support Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) after the SEC filed civil fraud charges against it -- Buffett couldn't be bothered to provide some answers to the FCIC.Requests from the general counsel of the FCIC, Gary Cohen, were responded to by a Buffett assistant, who said Buffett appreciated the invitation and was flattered by it, but he "had a full plate with Berkshire and just can't do it." FCIC executive director Wendy Edelberg sent letters to Buffett asking him to testify, too. Finally, the FCIC was forced to tell Buffett he would receive a subpoena if he did not volunteer testimony, and that's what transpired, with Buffett telling the FCIC to "bring on" the subpoena. >>Reluctant Buffett Forced to Testify The FCIC brought it, and the Buffett testimony is about to begin. There is plenty for the subpoena to deliver along with the Oracle of Omaha, to be sure. Buffett is appearing alongside Moody's Investor Services (MCO - Get Report) CEO Raymond McDaniel. Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder in Moody's, but has been a heavy seller of his Moody's shares in the past year and a half. Buffett's recent and very public defense of Goldman Sachs and its Abacus series of investments also gets to the heart of some big from the financial crisis and its investigation by the government: bad ratings on crappy mortgage securities as part of the larger subprime debacle that took down the entire U.S. housing market. What light can the Oracle shine on those issues? We shall see.... -- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.