May 2, 2020 / 10:48 PM / a month ago

BRIEF-Warren Buffett discusses coronavirus pandemic, strength of America, airlines at Berkshire annual meeting

May 2 (Reuters) - Berkshire hathaway chairman warren buffett, vice chairman greg abel take the stage at company’s annual meeting Buffett says vice chairman charlie munger is in ‘fine shape,’ and will return for 2021 annual meeting; says it did not seem worthwhile for vice chairman ajit jain to travel from new york for the meeting Buffett and abel are sitting several feet apart; buffett sat next to munger at previous annual meetings Buffett sees an ‘extraordinarily wide’ range of economic possibilities resulting from the coronavirus pandemic Buffett says he remains convinced that ‘nothing can basically stop america’ Buffett cites historical examples as the u.s. Civil war and the great depression to illustrate america’s ability to withstand adversity Buffett says dow jones average, which plunged soon after his birth during the great depression, took 20 years to return to its level when he was born, but americans ‘persevered, endured, prospered’ Buffett says: ‘nothing can stop america when you get right down to it.... Never bet against america.’ Buffett says ‘we are now a better country as well as an incredibly more wealthy country than we were in 1789’ Buffett says there is no reason to use borrowed money to participate in the ‘american tailwind’ Buffett says investors should not get in a position when market disruptions will affect them because they are leveraged, or are psychologically unable to absorb bad news Buffett says the best thing many investors can do is own the standard & poor’s 500 Buffett says he will bet on america for the rest of his life, and hopes his successors will too Buffett says he is not bothered in the least when berkshire invests in companies by purchasing its stocks, when it is not buying whole businesses Buffett says berkshire’s operating earnings will be ‘considerably less’ than if the coronavirus had not come along, at least through 2020 Buffett says he doesn’t know the consequences of shutting down the american economy, but says ‘it will work, whatever we do’ Buffett says federal reserve chairman jerome powell belongs on the ‘same pedestal’ as former fed chair paul volcker, for his response to the pandemic Buffett says he does not know the consequences of fed balance sheet expansion, but knows the ‘consequences of doing nothing’ Buffett says berkshire did not sell net $6.1 bln of stocks in april because of concern about markets Buffett says he decided he ‘made a mistake’ investing in airlines, saying the business has ‘changed in a very major way’ Buffett says ‘the world changed’ for airlines, taking away from their upside Buffett spoke about berkshire’s airline holdings — which have included american, delta, southwest and united — in context of explaining berkshire’s net stock sales in april

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