Warren Buffett says second stimulus might be needed

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 9, 2009 12:09pm EDT

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, smiles as he meets hedge fund manager Zhao Danyang (not pictured) who placed the winning bid in a charity auction for lunch with Buffett at New York's famous steak house, Smith&Wollensky, June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, smiles as he meets hedge fund manager Zhao Danyang (not pictured) who placed the winning bid in a charity auction for lunch with Buffett at New York's famous steak house, Smith&Wollensky, June 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legendary investor Warren Buffett said in an interview aired on Thursday unemployment could hit 11 percent and a second stimulus package might be needed as the economy struggles to recover from recession.

Buffett, the billionaire founder of Berkshire Hathaway, said Americans suffered "a shock to the system" from the economic difficulties in the final quarter of last year but had started to rebound.

"We're not in a freefall, but we're not in a recovery either," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."

"We were in a freefall really in the last quarter of last year, starting in the financial markets and spreading to the economy, and we had this huge change in behavior."

Buffett, a supporter of President Barack Obama during last year's election campaign, said a second economic stimulus package might be needed. The Obama administration says it does not see a need for a second stimulus yet.

"I think a second one may well be called for. It is not a panacea. A stimulus is the right thing. You hope it doesn't get watered down," he said.

He likened the first $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress to "half a tablet of Viagra and then having also a bunch of candy mixed in --- it doesn't have really quite the wallop."

Buffett said unemployment had "a ways to go" and he would not be surprised to see it hit 11 percent before it recovers.

"I'm not predicting it but no that would not surprise me," he said of the 11 percent figure.

"We're going to come out of this better than ever, the best days of America lie ahead but not next week or next month," he said.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; editing by Eric Beech)

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