In a blunt assessment of the value of investing in government Treasurys, billionaire Warren Buffett flatly told FOX Business Network in his first major interview of the 2015 that "the last thing" he would want to buy right now is a 30-year government bond.
When asked about a 10-year Treasury Buffett quipped, "I don't want a 10-day bond!"
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During the one-hour long, wide-ranging interview, Buffett announced he's beaten prostate cancer, which leaves him free to forge ahead to dig for investment diamonds. He expounded upon where he does find investment value, what his 50th annual shareholder meeting in May will offer, and made it clear he's about to purchase a western European business.
Buffett, 84, is celebrating the end of his fifth decade at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), the down-and-out textile company he bought in 1965 and turned into a holding company, which today is valued as one of the top five largest companies by market cap in the world.
For the first time in recent years, Buffett tackled the "when will the Federal Reserve tighten rates" question in his plain-spoken way, telling FOX Business, "The Fed will find it very tough to raise interest rates this year … European monetary policy has constrained [Federal Reserve Chair] Janet Yellen somewhat."
"I think if you asked me whether … I think if I were running the Fed, [whether] I'd be able to [raise rates], I don't think it will be very feasible to do. I think it would have a lot of international repercussions," he explained.
Buffett indicated he's finding the gems he always looks for -- value companies -- internationally.
"We're probably going to buy a small business in Europe. But I'd love to buy big ones," he told FOX Business. Today, Buffett clarified Berkshire has some $60 billion in cash, $40 billion of which he says he'd like to use on bargains. Where are the bargains? Not in any foreign currencies right now.
He glowingly spoke of his insurance giant Geico and was then surprised when FOX Business punched up Geico's longtime chairman and CEO Tony Nicely. Buffett says changes in the world of insurance may make it tougher to do business: "Driverless vehicles will bring down the cost of insurance and that will be good for hundreds of millions of Americans… but… it will slow down the pace of insurance."
Nicely, who rarely gives interviews, enthusiastically tackled the so-called "private-hail cab" businesses like Uber and Lyft.
"We want to insure Uber drivers," Nicely said. "We think we have the right type of policy to protect them well. So we are already licensed now in Maryland and Virginia and we hope to be licensed in many more states soon."
In just weeks, Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger will release their annual shareholder letter detailing performance of Berkshire's some 80 subsidiaries. FOX Business got early details from Buffett who says he will tackle the "Why won't Berkshire pay a dividend?" question, along with the issue of succession. He hinted he might clarify his previously secretive plan on who will run the company when he's gone, but told FBN he feels great and is energized to continue running -- and growing -- Berkshire.
When reminded it's one of the top five largest companies in the world he said, "There's still a few slots above us."
Can he get to the top slot?
"Well," he said smiling, "We're working on it."
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