Warren Buffett is preparing for the main event of this year's annual meeting with tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: Saturday's marathon question-and-answer session at Omaha's CenturyLink Center arena.
Before responding to all those questions tomorrow, Buffett had some answers for CNBC's Becky Quick in a brief on-camera parking lot interview last night.
He tells her the U.S. economy is "improving, but not at a fast rate." He calls its progress steady since the fall of 2009, but "the trajectory has been just at a very small angle, and that angle has not improved in the last few months." He still believes that once home construction picks up again, it will provide a major lift for the economy and the nation's jobs market. He says that will eventually happen, but he's "gradually learning not to predict when."
He did, however, make a prediction about the April employment report several hours before it was released this morning. He told Becky he thought payroll growth would come in under the consensus forecast of 160,000. That turned out to be correct, with the Labor Department reporting the economy only created 115,000 jobs last month.
Becky also asked him about the upcoming Facebook initial public offering that's created so much excitement among investors. It's no surprise he told her Berkshire won't be investing in Facebook, but he rejects the idea that we're seeing another internet "bubble."
"We aren't in any bubble phase on anything. People get excited about companies that have done that well. They should. It's extraordinary what's happened with that company. But we have not got to the point where you can come along and name anything 'net-net' something and have it just go wild. So this is not a bubble."
Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger are scheduled to answer questions from shareholders for six hours starting at 9:30a Central Time.
Becky and her "Squawk Box" co-anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin will be part of the trio of journalists who will also be posing questions. For the first time, there will also be a panel of Wall Street analysts.
Then on Monday morning starting at 6a ET, Buffett will be live with Becky on "Squawk Box" for the program's entire three hours.
We'll have extensive coverage of all this, including tomorrow's Q&A, here at Warren Buffett Watch.
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