CNBC's Becky Quick reported live by phone a few minutes ago from Warren Buffett's private jet, heading to a refueling stop in Anchorage and then on to China. She tells us Buffett is working hard onboard and she then handed the phone to him. In response to Mark Haines' question about what is the best currency in the world to own right now, Warren responded with a laugh, "Not the U.S. Dollar."
Here's a video clip and transcript of the entire phone call as it aired on Squawk on the Street.
Erin Burnett: How's this for a CNBC Exclusive? Becky Quick is globetrotting with Warren Buffett this week and this morning they're off to China. They're going to be visiting Buffett's Iscar factories. That’s the Israeli tool making company he bought last year. You see, that's this morning, Becky and Warren walking to get on the plane. And after they go to China, they're going to go to South Korea, but here's the thing. Becky never stops working. She could be having a glass of champagne on the plane right now, maybe she is, but she still had time to make a phone call. She's with us now. What's going on Becky?
Becky: Hey, good morning, Erin, good morning Mark.
Actually, it's not champagne we're drinking this morning, it was orange juice. I won't say it's been all business here, we did have time for an omelet this morning but as you might imagine, Warren Buffett, who some people call the greatest investor of all time, keeps himself pretty busy while he's on this plane . This is a work related trip.
He's brought along some people from Nebraska Furniture Mart who are sharing the trip across, they're what they call hitchhiking a ride over to China, because that's where they're headed to try to find some things and sourcing items. They're looking for things like sofas and upholstery. They say a huge chunk of the furniture now comes from China, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent. Interestingly enough, they say that just 10 years ago they weren't getting anything from China. So just over the course of the last 10 years it shows you how important China has become to just one of Berkshire Hathaway's many, many companies. And that's what they're focusing on this morning.
Now I was asking Mr. Buffett earlier this morning, does it make you nervous to travel at a time like this? Do you get worried with all the fluctuations that we've seen in the markets? Does it make you nervous to not know what's going on? And he said, no, absolutely zero, not a problem, not a concern for him at all. Although I will tell you that before we took off this morning, he knew that the futures were indicated higher for the market and he just checked in with his office to find out where the market is trading, where oil was trading, and a few other stocks.
So, as you guys can imagine, he's going to be keeping pretty busy reading things, he was reading the Wall Street Journal this morning and he was reading over a bunch of papers he's not going to show me right now. But we just wanted to call and check in. We're headed on our way there and we'll bring you more updates throughout the trip, interesting observations as we watch Warren Buffett traveling to China for the first time in 12 years. And guys, thanks for the time this morning, we appreciate it.
Mark Haines: Ah, Beck. So, where are you now?
Becky: I knew you were going to ask me that, Mark. I was just looking at the map that they have because it shows you along the way. I think we're right over Billings. We're headed to Anchorage, Alaska. We're on a G5 and we're going to be refueling there. But I think we have about three hours to go before we touch down there.
Mark: Ok, so Warren keeps his nose to the grindstone even on a plane flight, huh?
Becky: Yeah, even on a plane flight, he's working. And Warren, you want to just say hi? Hold on just a second, he's right here.
Warren Buffett: Hi Mark, we're getting a lot done up here. (Laughs.)
Mark:I don't know, I guess, I, I believe you. Yeah.
Warren: (Laughs) We never stop working.
Mark: I'd be looking out the window, I'd be having a cocktail or two, but if you want to work, sure.
Warren: I'm having a Cherry Coke actually as we speak.
Mark: You know, I've got to ask you a question because I really want to hear the answer and I know you ducked it. What do you think is the best currency in the world right now to own?
Warren: (Pause.) I don't think it’s the U.S. Dollar. (Laughs.)
Warren: That's as far as I'll go. (Laughs.)
Mark: I've been ducked as I expected. Thank you very much, and hey, have a great flight. And, ah, ah, you own a furniture company, right?
Warren: We own a bunch of furniture stores. We have five different furniture chains. We have the two largest furniture stores in the country in Omaha and Kansas City. And we have fellows that represent those stores on board and also our chain that's based in Salt Lake City called RC Willey.
Mark: You know, I don't think a lot of people realize how much of a force China has become in the furniture industry and even, I was surprised to learn, even at the high end.
Warren: Well, our total furniture operation will do what this year, about, probably, it's approaching $2 billion. So we have a pretty good sized retail operation. And that's home furnishings, and that counts on consumer electronics, carpeting and that sort of thing.
Erin: All right, well look guys, we'll let you get back to work.
Warren: I'll turn you back to Becky. She seems to know what's going on here.
Becky: Well, Mark, I don't know what you said to him but you got him to toss the phone back to me like a hot potato. (Laughs)
Erin: We're lucky he didn’t hang up on us, Beck. (Laughter.)
Mark: Actually, it was Erin and as soon as Erin came on the line he said goodbye. (Laughter.)
Erin: O.K., have a great trip and we'll talk to you as you go through.
Becky: All right. Thanks a lot, guys. Talk to you later.
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