Warren Buffett says economy slowly improving, calls Bernanke 'gutsy'

WASHINGTON -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he sees the economy slowly improving and hailed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke as "gutsy" for the actions the central bank has taken to boost growth.

Buffett told CNBC on Monday that he was not concerned about the financial markets' recent record highs, saying he recalled when the Dow Jones industrial average first crossed 100 points.


Investors shouldn't shy away from the markets, he said.

"Probably in my lifetime, and certainly in your lifetime, you will see markets that are far higher than this," Buffett told CNBC's Becky Quick.

Though stock prices are higher -- the Dow briefly crossed a record threshold of 15,000 in trading on Friday -- they're not "ridiculously higher," he said.

Buffett said the housing recovery is helping economic growth and that demand is slowly returning to the economy.

"The economy is moving forward, but at a slow pace," he said.

He had strong praise for Bernanke, who has led the controversial Fed efforts to stimulate the economy through near-zero interest rates and a dramatic expansion of the central bank's balance sheet.

Fed policymakers said for the first time last week that they were prepared to increase the central bank's $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program if the economy needed it.

Buffett called Bernanke a "gutsy guy" for his actions since the 2008 financial crisis, and that the Fed chief has done "very, very well" in trying to keep the economy moving foward.

Buffett said he might have started reducing the stimulus earlier, but admitted he wasn't sure how he would have done it so it would not have stunted the recovery.