Warren Buffett tells CNBC that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is a "very, very smart man." Even so, Buffett says, "I still worry about inflation."
Speaking to our Becky Quicklast night at an event ahead of this weekend's shareholders meeting, Buffett said commodity price increases could force businesses, including Berkshire's, to raise prices even if consumers aren't buying.
Here's the clip. Becky started by asking Buffett if he'd seen Bernanke's news conferenceon Wednesday:
BUFFETT: I heard quite a bit of it. Yeah, I didn't hear it all. But I mean, yeah, I heard it.
BECKY: What did you think of what he said?
BUFFETT: I think he's a very, very smart man. I hope he's right, that we can do what we're doing and inflation won't get going. But he is as conscious of inflation as I am, or anybody is. You know, I don't think there could be a better Fed chairman, but I still worry about inflation.
BECKY: You've been very worried about it, and worried that the Fed maybe hasn't paid enough attention. Do you think they are seeing the same thing you're seeing?
BUFFETT: I think they see the same things, but they may interpret them differently. He didn't talk about this the other day, but there's a lot of people who take the approach that because there's excess capacity in the United States industry that you can't have inflation because it won't get tight. But I can tell you that in the businesses we're in, plenty of them have a lot of excess capacity still. But if we get enough commodity price increases, we raise our prices even though business is not good. That happens, for example, in carpet. Carpet is oil (laughs) to some degree. There's just no way we can take the price increases, even though our business is not good. Our profits are not good at all in the carpet business. We still have to raise prices.
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