In a CNBC interview today, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett stated that the economy is not “moving yet” and that “green shoots” were not yet visible. Mr. Buffett joked that he was hoping the cataract operation on his left eye last month would help him see “green shoots” but he has not seen many hopeful indicators of economic growth.
Mr. Buffett’s comments on the economy are well worth considering carefully and not only because of his investment track record. Through Berkshire’s ownership of a diverse portfolio of operating companies, Mr. Buffett receives a broad array of reports that shed light on numerous important industries. This is particularly true for areas such as homebuilding given Berkshire’s exposure to building materials. In addition, reports from HomeServices of America, the second largest full service real estate brokerage in the United States, certainly provide a great deal of insight into the troubled real estate sector.
Other notable comments included statements of general support for the actions of the Treasury and Federal Reserve. In particular, Mr. Buffett appeared to endorse the reappointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Mr. Bernanke’s term expires early next year.
Also, in a comment that I completely agree with, Mr. Buffett was critical of Apple’s decision to not disclose the extent of Steve Jobs’ health problems and recent surgery:
“If I have any serious illness, or something coming up of an important nature, an operation or anything like that, I think the thing to do is just tell the American, the Berkshire shareholders about it. I work for ’em. Some people might think I’m important to the company. Certainly Steve Jobs is important to Apple. So it’s a material fact. Whether he is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact. Whether I’m facing serious surgery is a material fact. Whether (General Electric CEO) Jeff Immelt is, I mean, so I think that’s important.”
Here is the CNBC Video of the interview:
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Disclosure: The author owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.