Buffett predicts rosy economic future

The octogenarian billionaire maintains his bullish stance that the US will return as strong as ever.

By TheStreet Staff Sep 17, 2010 10:25AM

Credit: (© Paul White/AP)
Caption: Warren BuffettBy Don Dion, TheStreet


The back-and-forth market conditions of 2010 have weighed on the sentiment of many investors and market commentators, causing them to question the strength of the U.S. and global economic recovery.


Despite doubts emanating from many corners of both Wall Street and Main Street, there are still a number of reputable individuals from the business world who do not seem to share these concerns.


This week, Warren Buffett took to the stage at the Montana Economic Development Summit to express his views regarding the future of the U.S. economy.


The Oracle of Omaha, who has been a proponent for the nation's strength throughout these troubling times, did not veer from his bullish stance. Rather, he insisted that, despite concerns, the U.S. is not in any way heading toward a double-dip recession. In fact, pointing to factors such as hiring and lending, the octogenarian expects the U.S. to return stronger than ever.

Buffett was not alone in painting a rosy picture for the U.S. economy. Microsoft (MSFT) chief executive Steve Ballmer and General Electric (GE) chairman Jeff Immelt, who were also at the summit, were optimistic about the economy, pointing to forecast strength in both the technology and industrial sectors of the U.S. Post continues after video:

While the optimism emanating from Buffett, Ballmer and Immelt may have provided some with an injection of confidence, other Wall Street notables remain unimpressed.


This week, doomsayer Nouriel Roubini was once again in the spotlight, laying out his own beliefs for the future of the U.S. economy. The New York University professor, who has earned the nickname "Doctor Doom" for his consistently bearish forecasts, insisted that the second half of 2010 will be worse that the second quarter.


Earlier this summer, Roubini made headlines when he announced that the likelihood of seeing a double dip was greater than 40%.


Interestingly, this week another less-than-optimistic voice could be heard coming from Buffett's own bullpen. Speaking at the University of Michigan, Charlie Munger, Buffett's right-hand man, offered his own stormy outlook.

The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) vice chairman and Wesco Financial (WSC) CEO shared his own views of the economy and the outlook was far less positive than the one from Buffett.


Pointing to the job market, Munger insisted that the outlook is "lousy" and would remain so for an extended time. Looking at specific sectors of the economy such as commercial real estate, he explained that there is "more pain to come."


As with Buffett, this is not the first time Munger has expressed concerns for the future of the U.S. economy. In a piece titled "Basically, It's Over," written for Slate.com early in 2010, Munger presented his pessimistic vision for the U.S. in parable form. The story focuses on Basicland, which is ultimately transformed into Sorrowland as a result of high taxes, increased government spending, and gambling at casino banks.


The line appears to be drawn at Berkshire Hathaway, and it will be interesting to see whose forecast proves more accurate. Whom do you agree with more: Buffett or Munger?


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