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Omaha World-Herald Article – Recap of Recent Warren Buffett Comments

July 27, 2011

The Omaha World-Herald recently had an article that nicely summarized the recent public comments made by Omaha’s favorite son:

Warren Buffett is offering a hand if the federal government needs a few extra days to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling.

If a solution is at hand but misses the Aug. 2 deadline, Buffett said, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Omaha investment company he heads, would be willing to pay its next quarterly income tax early to help tide over the government.

Berkshire paid about $5.6 billion in corporate income taxes in 2010, so its quarterly payment would be more than $1 billion.

And other corporations probably would do the same out of a sense of patriotism, he said during interviews while attending a recent conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, sponsored by the Allen & Co. investment firm.

Buffett also said that the nation's debt problems were much tougher after World War II.

"No one went around threatening, 'We're going ruin the credit of the United States' or something in order to get a better balance of debt to GDP," said Buffett, who was a teenager during the war. "We just went about our business and people did it in a cooperative way, but they didn't do it by sticking guns to each others' heads."

Even if government leaders miss the deadline, he said, issues might be resolved in a few days without serious consequences. "On the other hand, you're playing with fire when you don't need to play with fire."

Other comments during interviews with CNBC's Becky Quick and Bloomberg's Betty Liu:

» The nation's biggest long-term problem: Health care costs take up too much of the economy.

» "Over time, the best investment most companies can make is not in a bunch of railroad equipment or a bunch of aircraft or a bunch of plants. . . . The best investment was lobbyists in Washington. And we have a tax code that reflects that."

» "The tax code is where people struggle to make sure the other guy pays more taxes. And that has gotten so extreme in this country that it's pretty hard . . . to get it corrected without having a really massive overhaul."

» Buffett buys one-eighth of a passenger jet for his own use each year, a cost of about $1 million. And he pays about $500,000 a year to give each of his children 33 hours of flying time, which also costs him a $240,000 gift tax.

» "I think when home construction moves up you will be amazed at how fast employment will improve and how fast the unemployment rate will drop."

» "If I were looking to buy a house, if I were renting now and I had the down payment and I had a job I was comfortable with, I would buy a house in a minute. I'd get a 30-year loan."

» "We have 216,000-plus people working at Berkshire Hathaway. I would say that virtually every one of those are going to have a job a year from now, or three years from now. I mean, we are not going down in employment at Berkshire. We're going up."

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Amaterass - 6 years ago    Report SPAM

A huge respect for Mr. Buffett.
Sapporosteve premium member - 6 years ago
Just like to say that I really enjoy your articles. It is interesting how many value investors talk about Buffett's dislike of debt and leverage but he is not adverse to using it at all. Here he is telling people to borrow and buy a house because they are cheap.

In my own experience I borrowed a considerable sum during the 2008 downturn when everything was basically on sale and bought many great Australian companies really cheaply and then caught the 2009 wave up. Most of them doubled at a minimum. If you are able to fund the interest payments and you use it to invest sensibly then I cant see why debt/leverage is seen as the devil. I cant remember where I read it but Buffett used debt and leverage early on in his "career" and obviously did well.

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