Billionaire Warren Buffett said the economy will be “in shambles” for the rest of this year as financial firms take losses tied to reckless loans made during the housing boom.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will probably gain in three-quarters of the next 44 years, just as it did in the period since Buffett took over Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in 1965, he said today in his annual letter to the company’s shareholders.
While Buffett and business partner Charlie Munger can’t predict how stocks will perform in 2009, they’re certain “that the economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 — and, for that matter, probably well beyond,” he wrote.
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Gross domestic product shrank at a 6.2 percent annual pace from October through December, the most since 1982, the Commerce Department said yesterday in Washington. Buffett said the consequences of the U.S. housing bubble are now “reverberating through every corner of our economy.”
Home purchases should involve an “honest-to-God down payment of at least 10 percent,” Buffett said. “Putting people into homes, though a desirable goal, shouldn’t be our country’s primary objective.”