Published May 02, 2013
Despite the economy’s slow pace, Warren Buffett maintains the U.S. is functioning “pretty darn well now.”
In an interview ahead of the annual Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) shareholder meeting, Buffett shared with FBN’s Liz Claman his opinions on everything from the state of the economy to Twitter, and from gold to women in the workplace.
“I don’t think the U.S. is terribly vulnerable,” said the Oracle of Omaha, though he admitted the recovery is a lot slower than most would like.
“But it is a recovery, and it’s a constant recovery – and you can say Europe has got plenty of problems,” said Buffett, drawing a line between the U.S. and the euro zone.
Unrest abroad hasn’t shaken Buffett’s commitment to his investments, though.
He reaffirmed his belief in investing for the long-term, and advised investors not to get scared off by headlines in the news.
“I think that investors should own businesses they want to own for 5 or 10 years, and they shouldn’t worry about Cyprus or Europe or anything else, as long as they’re happy with the businesses they own,” Buffett said.
And personally, he said current events did not stand to affect his own decisions: “I’m not going to sell the farm I own or the apartment house I own because of some news that may happen next week or next month.”
Buffett Praises Both Bush and Obama’s Leadership
Talking about the economy, Buffett credited both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, for their leadership throughout the recession.
“Anybody can look back and second-guess,” said Buffett.
Though he has a positive outlook on the future, Buffett is quick to underscore the severity of the recent financial crisis.
“What we went through in 2008 was something like I’d never seen, and a lot of things that were a whole lot worse than what happened could have happened if we had handled things wrong,” Buffett said.
‘Not a Buyer of Gold or Silver’
Buffett shared a number of his positions with FBN's Liz Claman – including his hard and fast take on gold.
“It just sits there, and you hope someone pays you more for it,” Buffett said. "If gold went to $1,000, I wouldn’t be a buyer, and if it went to $800 I wouldn’t be a buyer.”
He then pointed out that in 1965, a share of Berkshire Hathaway was worth only $15, and gold was at $35.
“You could have bought two shares of Berkshire for an ounce of gold – little more than two shares – and so far two shares of Berkshire has been better,” he said.
And the same goes for silver. While Buffett admitted that silver has “more utility” than gold, he said definitively, “I’m not a buyer of gold or silver.”
Buffett’s Succession Plan – and the Role of Women
Earlier Thursday, Buffett made a web-viral splash by joining Twitter – a move he said was primarily to lead eyes to an article he wrote for Fortune magazine on the importance of women in the workplace.
“I wanted to get out two messages. Women have been held back in a very major way both by exterior factors – primarily by exterior factors in the first century of this country – but also by interior factors,” he said.
In the article, Buffett mentioned that he had a leg up on his two sisters just by the sheer fact that he had been born male – and not because of any superior intelligence or skills. He encouraged women to stop looking at themselves in “funhouse mirrors” and doubting their own abilities, citing Washington Post Publisher Katharine (Kay) Graham as an example of a woman who needed to conquer self-doubt in order to succeed.
But when it came to his successor at Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett refused to share any details – but indicated that if something were to take him from the wheel in the short term, the next CEO will be a man.
“If I pick up 13 spades and my heart goes out, the board tomorrow morning will have somebody, and I’ve used the pronoun ‘he,’ and it’s a ‘he,’” said Buffett. “And he will be very good.”
But in 10 or 15 years’ time, Buffett said the CEO could very well be a woman, adding, “I hope it is.”