Buffett on CNBC: U.S. Getting Slower, But Will Turn Eventually

By Alex Crippen
|  Tuesday, May 5, 2009  |  Updated 6:09 AM PDT
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Buffett on CNBC: U.S. Getting Slower, But Will Turn Eventually

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Warren Buffett tells CNBC's Becky Quick this morning the U.S. economy is "very slow" and "getting slower."

BUFFETT INTERVIEW VIDEO CLIPS

But in a live CNBC interview with Becky Quick in the driveway of his Omaha home, Buffett repeats his long-held optimism that the economy will get better -- he just doesn't know when.

Becky asked him about headlines in the morning's newspapers.

Here are the highlights:

  • Buffett still "100% enormously optimistic" about U.S. economy over long-term, but doesn't see short-term signs of a pick-up
     
  • "American economy is slow, and still getting slower, but that will turn" .. just don't know when .. hopes it's soon
     
  • Time to buy stocks is when "business is bad" .. not when things are going well.  Buffett says he's had some of his best investing years ever during recessions
     
  • Buffett sees some signs of a turnaround in residential real estate

 

  • Buffett repeats confidence in Wells Fargo and US Bancorp; doesn't know enough about SunTrust's business model to comment (Berkshire has stakes in all three banks)
     
  • "Very important" for Chrysler to get out of bankruptcy very soon
     
  • Sympathetic to both sides in the Chrysler bankruptcy
  • Repeats long-held belief that U.S. will need more tax revenue eventually, just a matter of who pays. Country can take a higher tax rate.  (He thinks the very rich should be taxed more than they are now)

  • "We don't need to build new houses" now .. we need to sell down the existing housing inventory
     
  • Buffett on 'cramdowns': I would be more careful about lending money if courts are able to change the contracts

     

  • Buffett on last fall's New York Times op-ed: I just said what I was doing at the time, not trying to "talk-up" the market.
     
  • "The cheaper things go, the better I like it" .. especially when compared to buying Treasuries .. stocks will beat out Treasuries over the long-run.  Asked if he or Berkshire has been buying stocks recently, he repeated his statement that he likes things when they're cheaper
     
  • Buffett: "I love newspapers," but they don't have a future .. print editions getting too expensive compared to the Internet.  But in Washington Post stock "for keeps."
     
  • What's happened to AIG over past few years is a "tragedy."  "They had a black box" that delivered great numbers but the black box turned into a "black hole."  They were making bets they didn't understand.
     
  • Don't look at Bank of America's specifics more than looks at Wells Fargo
     
  • Asked about main takeaway from Berkshire meeting over the weekend:  We had fun and we sold a lot of (Berkshire) products

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class A: (NYSE: US;BRK.A)

Class B: (NYSE: US;BRK.B)

For more Buffett Watch updates follow alexcrippen on Twitter.

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

For more stories from CNBC, go to cnbc.com.

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