BECKY: What about-- from an employment perspective. We still have nine and a half percent unemployment in the country. What-- what are your businesses doing right now in terms of hiring?
BUFFETT: Adding-- very few people. But the-- the-- the railroad will have added a fair number of people, because if you've come back 61 percent, you've come back a fair amount unemployment. But if you take our carpet business, it fell from 13 million yards a week, we'll say, to seven million yards a week. And with that cost 6,500 jobs. We're back up to maybe nine million yards a week. But we haven't had to add yet. If we get to ten million, we'll start adding people. But it-- it's lagging and it'll continue to lag.
BECKY: The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee also met this week and came out with a statement that has many looking at it saying the Fed is now poised to go ahead with QE2, quantitative easing, if-- the economy doesn’t improve, at this point. Is that your understanding of that? And you think that’s the right call?
BUFFETT: We've got three tools really in fighting a recession. And the ones you read about are monetary policy, which is the Fed. And, of course, fiscal policy. I think the most important factor in getting out of the recession actually is just the regenerative capacity of-- of American capitalism. And we had many recessions in the history of this country when nobody even heard of fiscal policy or monetary policy. The country always comes back.
There are 309 million people out there that are trying to improve their lot in life. And we've got a system that allows them to do it. It doesn't allow things to get changed overnight, though. And-- and-- it's-- it's important to have the right monetary policy. It's important for-- to have the right fiscal policy. But it's nowhere near as important as just the normal regenerative capacity of American capitalism.
BECKY: It sounds like you're-- asking for patience. That that's what it takes to get through this.
BUFFETT: Well, unfortunately, I just-- I don't know how to do it. I mean, if-- if it was a question of, you know, I think the Fed is paying those banks a quarter of a percent now. I thought maybe-- maybe they ought to charge them a quarter of a percent to leave their money on deposit and that would really push it out. (Laughter.) But-- but I mean, we've used up a lot of bullets. And we talk about stimulus. But the truth is, we're running a-- federal deficit that's nine percent of GDP. That is stimulative as all get out. I mean, that is more stimulative than any policy we've followed since World War II.
And, of course, World War II, we had a huge stimulus and it-- it took us out of-- a depression. But we are-- it doesn't depend on calling it the 'Stimulus Bill' to be stimulating. I mean, if-- if-- if the government is spending $3 for every $2 it takes in, that is-- that is fiscal stimulus. And it isn't kick-starting things as much as the American public would like. I'm sure as much as the Administration or Congress would like. It's probably had some effect, probably less than the economists thought it would have going into this.
What will take us out of this is people like these 23 people that-- that we gave a diploma to today. And big business. I mean, everybody glorifies small business. God bless 'em, you know? And-- and I'm not supposed to talk about mother on Father's Day. But-- but I would say that-- that-- remember, the jobs that-- medium-sized businesses, large businesses, giant businesses, they're all important.
BECKY: For all of those businesses to be hiring, has Washington done enough at this point? Would you like to see more done? It sounds like from a stimulus perspective, you've seen enough. Maybe from the Fed's perspective, you've seen enough. Is there anything you'd like to see different in tax structure?
BUFFETT: Well, I-- I think for one reason or another, and everybody has their own explanation, sentiment has turned very sour in the last three or four or five months. It's been generally sour on Congress and Washington, but it seems to have taken a turn for the worse. I -- I hope we get over it pretty soon, because it's -- it's not productive. We will come back regardless of how people feel about Washington. But-- but it's not helpful to-- to have people-- as unhappy as they are about what's-- what's going on in Washington. And-- I'm-- I'm not sure exactly what's gonna get us out of that, but we'll get out of it.
BECKY: Larry Summers announcing this weekthat he’ll be leaving the White House. He is the third of the four key economic advisors for Obama’s White House. What do you think about his departure? And where do you think they should be looking for his successor? Would it be someone who’s a CEO? Would it be an economist?
BUFFETT: It would be-- it would be nice if he-- if you could find somebody that the American people, and American business, felt good about. On the other hand, you can't have somebody that goes off-- totally off the reservation, if you put 'em in there. I mean, you know, (former General Electric Chairman) Jack Welsh might be a wonderful guy, but I think-- you'd be a little nervous if you were the administration and you put him in that position. But-- you need somebody that-- of that stature going in. And I don't think it's-- I don't think it's that important whether they're a trained economist or not. But no, they may disagree with me on that.
BECKY: So, you would like to see someone with a business background, who's been a leader in business?
BUFFETT: Yeah. And who has the respect, not only of business, but the American people generally. I think that-- I just think it's important that-- that people feel better about their government and they've got to be given some reason to feel better about their government.
BUFFETT: You know, people talk about this being an uncertain time. You know, all time is uncertain. I mean, it was uncertain back in-- in 2007, we just didn't know it was uncertain. It was-- uncertain on September 10th, 2001. It was uncertain on October 18th, 1987, you just didn't know it. We always live in an uncertain world. What is certain is that the United States will go forward over time.