In an hour-long interview with CNBC's Becky Quick Wednesday morning, Warren Buffett lets fly on the day's hot topics. His biggest headline grabber was his assertion that he would have voted no to Kraft's acquisition of Cadbury if given the chance (which he didn't get, despite owning 9.9 percent of the company). Given his stake, it's less surprising that he believes Kraft's shares--370 million of which may be issued for the deal--are undervalued. But the Oracle did not stop there:
Buffett on the Bank Tax:
"It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me," Buffet said, arguing that, since banks have largely repaid the government, Obama's proposed levy is essentially a "guilt tax" that will cover outstanding loans to auto companies as well as to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "It's a popular tax to propose now, obviously. The American people love the idea of Goldman or AIG or anybody like that" getting slapped with new fees, Buffet explained. "I just think that a tax that's enacted with the idea that the headlines will be appealing and that a certain amount of vengeance will be achieved" is not a smart policy.
Buffett on Bernanke:
Asked whether he thought Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should be reconfirmed, Buffett replied, "If I could vote twice, I would. He did a magnificent job over this period." Asked what would happen if Bernanke is not reconfirmed, he laughed. "Well, tell me a day ahead of time so I could sell some stocks." All joking aside, though, Buffet did not express much confidence in American lawmakers: "If Congress essentially said, 'We can do this better than a Ben Bernanke,' I would get very worried."
Buffett on Job Creation:
The Berkshire Hathaway chief explained that his company has shed thousands of jobs in the past year and half, but that they can't rehire until their customers return. "We're not reluctant to hire because of what's going on in Washington," he said. "We're worried about hiring because of what's going on in our order book." Business couldn't pick up soon enough, though: "Until you get a better job picture, you're not going to have a happy American people."
Buffet on Kraft/Cadbury, cont.:
In sum: "I feel poor." Buffett slammed Kraft's recent sale of a profitable pizza business to Nestle, lamenting the loss several times throughout the interview. He also criticized Kraft's directors for not being honest with shareholders about the undervaluing of company stock. When asked if he would "vote with his feet" and sell his shares, Buffett shrugged. "Well, that gets expensive. If I don't like what's going on in government, it doesn't mean I have to leave the government." He was sure to keep things civil, though, and in reference to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, he said, "I think Irene has done a good job in operations. I like Irene. She's been straightforward with me, we just disagree. She thinks it's a good deal, I think it's a bad deal."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.