According to Wikipedia, Warren Buffet is "an American investor, businessman and philanthropist". He is "regarded as one of the world’s greatest stock market investors, and is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway".
As of March 5, 2008, Warren Buffet is now the new "Richest Man On The Planet Earth", according to the Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires.
March 5 was also the day of the US Federal Reserve Bank’s 2nd Beige Book (the 1st report was in January 2008). This report gave spades of evidence — anecdotal, no doubt — that the US’s recent financial woes that came to light last year (2007) have spread from the subprime mortgage domain to the rest of the financial industry and markets, as well as to the US economy as a whole (meaning to industries/sectors other than the financial industry/sector).
This report alone gave credence to the opinions and analyses of economists and financial gurus of the calibre of Professor Paul Krugman of the recent (October, 2007) The Conscience of a Liberal book fame, Julia Coronado of Barclays Capital and a co-author of Public Funds and Private Capital Markets, and David Wyss of S&P (who had changed his position from being upbeat even in the face of the subprime mortgage crisis, when he used to say that that crisis would not affect US banks and the US economy was getting "brighter"). For a short collation on this matter, CLICK HERE.
Two days before the 2nd Beige Report, i.e., on March 3, 2008, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) carried a Reuters report on Warren Buffet’s view of the US economy, viz.:
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Monday [March 3, 2008] that the U.S. economy was in recession ….
Listen … if the Richest Man On The Planet Earth said that the US economy is in recession, it’s in recession, period.
Of course, it helps that the one saying it is Warren Buffet, and not, say, Bill Gates, for example, even though Bill Gates used to hold that title of the Richest Man On The Planet Earth for many years.
Why, you might ask?
Wellllllll ……. mainly because Warren Buffet is who he is, you know? An investor who is "regarded by many as America’s greatest investor", said the same Reuters report of March 3, 2008, in the IHT. Now, Bill Gates is super-rich also, of course — Forbes magazine estimated that Bill Gates’ net worth is US$58 billion, which you may say is "just" US$4 billion short of Warren Buffet’s net worth of US$62 billion …But, hey! Bill Gates is not Warren Buffet, get it? (If you don’t get it, you are either a DINOSAUR … or a "bozo", to borrow a favorite word used by Steve Jobs of Apple Computers fame.)
Anyway, technically, the US economy is not in recession because its GDP had not yet fallen for two consecutive quarters (i.e., two consecutive quarters of negative growth), which is the usual gauge many economists use to identify when a recession had begun. Nevertheless, the Reuters report said that Warren Buffet spoke on CNBC television (I missed that telecast — but then, if you are NOT a DINOSAUR, you’ll remember there is the Internet … so go visit cnbc.com), saying that the U.S. economy was in a recession, despite the lack of the afore-mentioned technical evidence. (Look, wise up: don’t take the risk and end up being spoken to, thus, "Technically, you are an idiot!" So, don’t become so "technical", get it?)
Now, apparently, Warren Buffet then went on to reveal that the slowing economic conditions were hurting his Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway insurance and investment company. This was the company that resulted in Warren Buffet becoming an American icon, especially to investors, after Buffet had transformed Berkshire over four decades from a failing textile manufacturer into a US$215 billion investment and insurance company.
Of course, the US economy is of vital concern to Buffet and Berkshire. The company owns 76 operating units, which are selling real products as varied as carpet, ice cream, paint and underwear.
The Reuters report also had Buffet saying that "By any common-sense definition, we are in a recession. Business is slowing down. We have retail stores in candy, home furnishings and jewelry. Across the board, I’m seeing a significant slowdown."