Warren Buffett tells CNBC's Becky Quick this morning the U.S. economy is "very slow" and "getting slower."
But in a live Squawk Box interview in the driveway of his Omaha home, Buffett repeats his long-held optimism that the economy will get better -- he just doesn't know when.
Becky asked him about headlines in the morning's newspapers.
Here are the highlights:
- Buffett still "100% enormously optimistic" about U.S. economy over long-term, but doesn't see short-term signs of a pick-up
- "American economy is slow, and still getting slower, but that will turn" .. just don't know when .. hopes it's soon
- Time to buy stocks is when "business is bad" .. not when things are going well. Buffett says he's had some of his best investing years ever during recessions
- Buffett sees some signs of a turnaround in residential real estate
- Buffett repeats confidence in Wells Fargo and US Bancorp; doesn't know enough about SunTrust's business model to comment (Berkshire has stakes in all three banks)
- "Very important" for Chrysler to get out of bankruptcy very soon
- Sympathetic to both sides in the Chrysler bankruptcy
Repeats long-held belief that U.S. will need more tax revenue eventually, just a matter of who pays. Country can take a higher tax rate. (He thinks the very rich should be taxed more than they are now)
- "We don't need to build new houses" now .. we need to sell down the existing housing inventory
- Buffett on 'cramdowns': I would be more careful about lending money if courts are able to change the contracts
- Buffett on last fall's New York Times op-ed: I just said what I was doing at the time, not trying to "talk-up" the market.
- "The cheaper things go, the better I like it" .. especially when compared to buying Treasuries .. stocks will beat out Treasuries over the long-run. Asked if he or Berkshire has been buying stocks recently, he repeated his statement that he likes things when they're cheaper
- Buffett: "I love newspapers," but they don't have a future .. print editions getting too expensive compared to the Internet. But in Washington Post stock "for keeps."
- What's happened to AIG over past few years is a "tragedy." "They had a black box" that delivered great numbers but the black box turned into a "black hole." They were making bets they didn't understand.
- Don't look at Bank of America's specifics more than looks at Wells Fargo
- Asked about main takeaway from Berkshire meeting over the weekend: We had fun and we sold a lot of (Berkshire) products
Current Berkshire stock prices:
Class A: [US;BRK.A 93597.0 1592.00 (+1.73%) ]
Class B: [US;BRK.B 3090.75 46.80 (+1.54%) ]