…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• Amazon may have a future. Warren Buffett said this week that his Berkshire Hathaway has been buying Amazon shares (which were trading at $1900 per share yesterday when the markets closed), to the point that its Amazon position will show up in a regulatory filing.

Actually, Bloomberg reports that Buffett has said that he underestimated Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. “The Amazon stake further cements the relationship between Berkshire and Bezos’s company,” the story says. “Berkshire is a partner with Amazon and Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. in a health venture. The firms are setting up an independent company to offer health-care services to their U.S. employees more transparently and at a lower cost.”

Buffett also made an important point this week, attributing the Amazon share purchase to investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, who he has said give Berkshire Hathaway “younger eyes.” Now, that description could apply to a lot of people - Buffett is, after all, 88 - but not all 88 year old guys are willing to make that concession.


Reuters reports that Amazon, while investing in a wide range of robotics and automation projects that could revolutionize its distribution systems, is dismissing the idea that machines will replace humans anytime in the near future.

In fact, Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, says that “technology is at least 10 years away from fully automating the processing of a single order picked by a worker inside a warehouse,” and he cites “the superior cognitive ability of humans and limitations of current technology.”

“In the current form, the technology is very limited. The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need,” Anderson says.