Warren Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, issued a negative outlook for the US economy on Saturday, April 29, 2023, saying the boom period for his businesses has ended.
Fears of a US recession and credit constraint are being fueled by rising interest rates and financial pressures. Buffett stated during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday that he anticipates a recession this year.
The renowned investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway stated, “The majority of our businesses will actually report lower earnings this year than last year,” attributing the anticipated fall to a broader economic slowdown.
Numerous companies are owned by Berkshire, including the BNSF Railway, Geico, and See’s Candies. It works in a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, retail, services, real estate, energy, insurance, and real estate. Investors consider it to be a microcosm of the US economy due to the size and scope of its operations.
Buffett emphasized that several of Berkshire’s companies have had successful recent years. In addition to the US government infusing the economy with cash to lessen the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, they profited from historically low interest rates.
That time frame is over, according to Buffett. “The climate is different than it was six months ago.”
Within the last 14 months, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates from virtually zero to over 5% in an effort to stop record inflation. Higher rates tend to reduce demand, drive down asset prices, and boost the likelihood of a recession since they encourage saving over spending and drive-up borrowing costs.
Banks are under a lot of strain as a result of higher rates because their fixed-income portfolios’ value has fallen. Additionally, they have caused depositors to withdraw their cash in large quantities and park them in money market funds and bonds with greater yields.
These elements have exacerbated the current banking crisis. In March, both Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed, and most recently, JPMorgan acquired the troubled First Republic Bank.
The upheaval has stoked worries that banks may reduce lending in an effort to shore up their finances and get ready for additional bank runs, which would lead to a credit crunch and push the economy into a recession. Higher rates, according to Buffett, are not altogether negative for Berkshire. He pointed out that, up from around $50 million a few of years ago, the corporation is set to earn around $5 billion this year from its roughly $125 billion in cash, Treasuries, and other short-term investments.