Warren Buffett isn’t that excited about the US economy right now.
Speaking with CNBC’s Becky Quick on Thursday from the parking lot outside his bridge game in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffett said simply, “This economy is not booming.”
“On the other hand,” Buffett added, “it’s not falling apart either.”
On Thursday, the first reading on first-quarter 2016 gross-domestic-product growth showed that the economy expanded at a rate of just 0.5%.
Buffett added that rail traffic had been quite disappointing this year, and while a major dent in the industry is being made by a decline in coal shipments, he said that across the 25 industries that Berkshire’s BNSF railroad unit deals with, “a very significant percentage of those are disappointing.”
Asked whether he agreed with economists who say economic growth has picked up in the second quarter, Buffett said, “I wouldn’t know,” but, he added, the economists “don’t know either.”
To the surprise of no one, Buffett told Quick that over the long term his optimism level about America was a 10.
In his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders this year, Buffett wrote:
For 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start. America’s golden goose of commerce and innovation will continue to lay more and larger eggs. America’s social security promises will be honored and perhaps made more generous. And, yes, America’s kids will live far better than their parents did.
Thursday’s comments make clear he hasn’t changed this position. Buffett has spent his whole business career betting on this same future for America.
And given this view, Buffett said he was not really worried about short-term changes in the economy.
“If I feel like a 10 on long-term optimism, why should I get depressed if I get a cold today?” Buffett said.
As for what Buffett looks forward to most about the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting – which will take place Saturday morning – he said simply: “The biggest thing I really look forward to is hearing what Charlie [Munger] has to say. He never fails to surprise me.”
Watch the full interview below: