(Warren Buffett, Recession story updated for Buffett comments to CNBC, Moody's share sale, new Forbes 400 list)
OMAHA, Neb. ( TheStreet) -- The Oracle of Omaha has spoken: no double-dip recession! No wait, that was last week. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) CEO and don of old school American capitalism Warren Buffett predicted last Monday that there will be no double-dip recession and things are all A-OK with the U.S. economic recovery.
It seemed to be a bullish signal for investors, and the financial press grabbed Buffett's words and ran with them. Yet just a week later, Buffett is saying something different ... or at least amending his bullish statements.
Based on new statements given by the Oracle to CNBC it seems that there is no chance of a double-dip recession because we are still in a recession, according to Buffett. But didn't the National Bureau of Economic Research just declare the recession ended, as of June 2009? Did you really expect Buffett to agree with a cadre of elite, academic economists? Sure, and next he will start donating money to the Charitable Fund for Underpaid Investment Bankers, and Buffett righthand man Charlie Munger will trade in his seat on the board of Costco for a seat on the board of the Ford Foundation.Buffett's comments may seem like the same old faith in the U.S. economy that the Berkshire Hathaway chief has evinced all along, and we should take them with a grain of salt for that reason alone. From saying Berkshire Hathaway's acquisition of railroad Burlington Northern was a bet on the U.S. economy, to investing in Goldman Sachs (GS) at the worst moment of the financial crisis as a way to use his financial might to restore faith in the U.S. financial system, Buffett has always played the part of carnival barker for U.S. capitalism, calling all Americans to show conviction in their nation's financial future. Warren Buffett also said last week that as a sign of his faith in the U.S. economy, Berkshire was hiring again. Yet now, Buffett is saying something less enthusiastic about hiring, too. >>>View Warren Buffett's Portfolio There's a big difference between investing billions of dollars in railroads or an investment bank and opining on the future of the U.S. economy. Buffett put his money where his mouth often is in the case of Burlington Northern and Goldman Sachs, but should it matter to investors when Warren Buffett offers investors rah-rah quotes about the U.S. recovery that aren't backed by huge investments, or even backed by comments made the next week? It's words versus deeds, acting versus action. And now, even the words are changing from week to week. In Buffett's comments to the Montana Economic Development Summit last week, Buffett noted that Berkshire Hathaway is again hiring. Still, the fact that Berkshire Hathaway is hiring again doesn't exactly guarantee an economic recovery. Berkshire Hathaway had mass layoffs during the economic crisis, so getting back to normal doesn't necessarily mean surging ahead.