Warren Buffett weighs in on Bernanke, Obama, China and oil

Uber-investor Warren Buffett has always seemed more accessible than your typical CEO. That's thanks in no small part to his widely read -- and plainly written -- annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) shareholders. But he's plenty interesting speaking off the cuff as well, as he demonstrates in a series of quick online videos posted today by Fortune.

In the videos, Buffett fields questions on interest rates, investing in China, the future of energy and the Obama administration's efforts to revamp financial regulation. It's tempting to say Buffett didn't make news -- except, well, practically everything the man says is newsworthy to his legions of followers.
Here are the highlights of Buffett's Q&A:

1. Buffett is bullish on China. The country "has done and is doing extraordinarily well," he said. "They're working from a lower base, but they are learning how to unleash human potential in a way that is going to cause their standard of living to increase substantially." Will that mean more Chinese investments for Berkshire Hathaway? Buffett demurred, saying it depends on what opportunities arise.

2. There are plenty of opportunities in the U.S., too. As much as Buffett likes China's prospects (and India's, too), he isn't writing off stateside investments. "There are all kinds of things in the United States it makes sense to invest in," Buffett said. As for Asia, "it's not required that you go there to find attractive investments at all," he said.

3. The Oracle looks past oil. Is Buffett a peak oil believer? "We're using something on the order of 85 million barrels a day and it's going to be difficult, in my view, to get that up much," he said. "We'll use less eventually -- it is a finite resource -- so the real question is how well we anticipate that situation." If we're not ready, look for oil prices to spike. Buffett suggests embracing electric vehicles as a way to ween ourselves off fossil fuels.

4. It's too soon to start raising interest rates. Buffett lavished praise on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, calling him "as smart a man as you can have" and "the ideal person to be running the Fed." With economic recovery still in its early stages, Buffett said, it's simply too early to move rates higher.

5. Buffett withholds judgment on financial reform. Asked to weigh in on whether the Obama administration is taking the right approach to overhauling financial regulation, Buffett said it was too soon to say. "They're working on regulatory legislation and we'll see what ends up being passed," he said.
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