Warren Buffett says there's no question that the United States' debt is still AAA and that he's not changing his mind about Treasurys based on Standard & Poor's downgrade.
"If anything, it may change my opinion on S&P," the legendary investor said.
Buffett is a big shareholder in Moody's , rival to S&P.
And Buffett is putting his money where his mouth is. As of June 30, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway had $47 billion in cash and equivalents. Buffett tells me that at least $40 billion of that is in U.S. Treasury bills. Not only that, Buffett says almost all of his own personal holdings in cash and equivalents are in T-bills as well.
"I wouldn't dream of putting it anywhere else," says Buffett, adding that at Berkshire, the only reason he's sold U.S. Treasurys in the past is to buy stocks or make acquisitions. And Buffett says Berkshire is still buying T-bills, even though yields have fallen so low. "If I have to buy (Treasurys) at a zero percent yield , I will," he says. "I don't like it, but we'll do it."
That's not to say that the nation's recent spending habits, the Fed's propensity to print money , and Washington's political gridlockhaven't taken its toll on investor sentiment. Buffett recognizes that, as well. "Our currency is not AAA, and in recent months the performance of our government has not been AAA, but our debt is AAA," Buffett adds.
S&P and other bond ratings agencies are responsible for rating whether entities can pay off their obligations. Buffett argues that as the richest nation in the world with a GDP of $48,000 per person, America should have no problem meeting that obligation. And, of course, there's also the benefit of having a Federal Reserve that can print money. "I can go out drinking all night, but if I've got a printing press, my debt is good," says Buffett.