Today Warren Buffet, billionaire and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) shared his views about different issues affecting the economy and the financial world including the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), the euro, municipal bankruptcies. He also talked about his suggestion for Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) and his firm’s investment in Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX).
During an interview with Bloomberg’s television show, “In the Loop with Betty Liu,” Buffet says that the Affordable Health Care Act popularly known as the “Obama Care” is a step forward in resolving the “tape worm” in the economy. Buffet reiterated his position made in 2010, that the health care legislation will help curb the increasing health care costs afflicting American businesses.
According to Buffett, the United States Supreme court made the right decision in upholding the Obama Care. He explains that healthcare is the number one problem of the United States and American businesses. It accounts 18 percent of the country’s economy. Costs are higherin America than many other countries where the Government pays half the amount that the US does. He points out, “It’s the tapeworm, essentially, of the American economy, and we have not dealt with that yet. Obama Care is a step in the right direction in many ways. There are only 100 points in the dollar, and to have a seven or eight point disadvantage is huge. In terms of cost, it’s going to require a huge change.”
The Affordable Health Care Act allows Americans to choose health care insurance that works best for them. It provides free preventive services such as cancer screenings to 54 million Americansm through their private insurance and it allows young adults (estimated 3.1 million) to remain covered by their parent’s health care plan until the age of 26. People with pre-existing conditions will be covered through the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. The bill also requires business owners with 50 or more full-time employees to provide a minimum level of coverage or else pay a penalty.
Regarding the Europe, Buffet said that the euro is on its way to failure. According to him, the 17 countries sharing the euro need to overhaul their system because it has “fundamental, fatal flaws” and it cannot survive with the present rules. He emphasizes that improving the euro monetary system is difficult because there are money countries involved.
Buffet also talks about the housing industry. According to Buffett, during the past few months the industry showed a more balanced development. He also says that Wells Fargo has a “sensational mortgage operation” and the company must aim for $1 trillion in mortgages, Buffet believes that the bank’s leadership in home lending in the United States will pay off as the housing market recovers. According to him, the company does a better job than any other big players in the mortgage market. Currently, Wells Fargo holds 33.9 percent of all U.S. home loans. Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is Wells Fargo’s largest shareholder.
Commenting on the United States banking system, Buffet says that in recent months it is in “terrific shape” compared to the European banking system. When asked about JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Buffet expresses strong confidence with Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan. He describes Dimon as one of the best bankers in the world, despite the participation of the JP Morgan London office in trading losses and Libor manipulation.
Buffet also spoke with Betty Liu about the investment of Berkshire Hathaway in Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX). He says that his firm reduced its stakes in ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and purchased stakes in the refining operate. Phillips 66 is a spin off company of ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), with operations in refining, pipelines and chemical assets. Shares of Phillips 66 were up by 5.82% to $34.93 on Buffett’s comments.
Buffet expects more municipalities to file for bankruptcy in the United States. He says that the stigma attached to cities filing for bankruptcy, is lower after big cities in California including San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes filed for court protection from creditors.