ALBERT HERTER

‘BUFFET SAYS HIS BUSINESSES BOTTOMED, ‘ at Reuters via fidelity.com.

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2009 at 02:43

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Billionaire Warren Buffett said that while his businesses have bottomed after the worst financial crisis in decades, he saw few upticks and ruled out a buoyant holiday season.

Consumer demand will recover and it is likely that the economy would come back in two years rather than in one, Buffett said during an interview with Charlie Rose.

“Our businesses, they’ve bottomed … (there are) very few upticks,” said Buffett, the world’s second richest man, in response to Rose’s question about whether the “economic panic” is over.

Last month, preliminary government data showed the U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter, the first three-month period of growth since the second quarter of 2008.

Nonetheless, the U.S. unemployment rate last month reached 10.2 percent, the first double-digit reading in 26 years.

Buffett last week made a big bet on the U.S. economy when his Berkshire Hathaway Inc agreed to pay about $26.4 billion for the 77 percent of railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp that it did not already own.

Buffett, perhaps the world’s most admired investor, estimated the U.S. dollar will depreciate as the U.S. government prints more dollars.

“The question is how much it depreciates in value,” said Buffett, 79.

The dollar has declined around 15 percent against a basket of six major currencies .DXY> from the highs set in March and is down more than 37 percent from a peak in 2001.

Buffett estimated the U.S. Congress will have to raise taxes and close the budget gap, which hit a record $1.4 trillion in the fiscal year closed at the end of September.

“In the end, Congress is the one that determines the value of the dollar over time. If they follow policies that require us printing too much of it, monetizing debt and all that sort of thing, dollars will become worth a lot less,” Buffett said.

“They’ve got to raise taxes now that income will go up as the recession ends anyway, but they’re going to have to close the gap between expenditures,” Buffett said.

Massive budget deficits could unnerve investors, worried that they spell additional government bond issuance to finance the funding gap, and the White House has said it plans to use the 2011 budget as a blueprint to improve the fiscal position.

“We cannot keep running fiscal deficits like we are currently without having a lot of consequences over time,” Buffett said.

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