Amid COVID-19 Disaster, Warren Buffett Talks Up US, World Progress

Warren Buffett

In a wide-ranging interview, world-renowned investor Warren Buffett weighed in on such topics as the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis it has created and the future of American capitalism.

“I’ve always felt a pandemic would happen at some time,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance. “I mean, I’ve actually used that term, in describing things that can interrupt the progress of, not only this country but the world.”

Buffett, chairman and CEO of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said he views the current crisis both with sadness and his signature optimism: “It won’t stop the progress of the country or the world. I mean, this is a terrible event that’s occurring. We don’t know how terrible … But there will be other things that happen in the world in the next five, 10, 20 years. That’s the way the world works. It’s not a totally even course.”

Looking to the future, he said, “The progress of mankind has been incredible.” He pointed to the “incredible” pace of change in the U.S. over the last 250 years, adding, “that’s only three of my lifetimes.”

Beyond that, he said, Americans “haven’t lost interest in making progress,” which will benefit all kinds of people in different ways.

But he added, progress will not happen in an even manner: “I think, around the world, but there will be interruptions. And I don’t know when they will occur. And I don’t know how deep they will occur. I do know they will occur from time to time, but I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end.”

Beyond the economic collapse that COVID-19 has triggered, the deadly coronavirus has drastically altered the way many of us work. Berkshire Hathaway’s widely covered annual shareholder meeting, set to take place Saturday (May 2), will not feature actual shareholders this year. The event will be live streamed on Yahoo. Greg Abel, Berkshire’s vice-chairman of the non-insurance operations, will join Buffett, and shareholders will be able to ask questions through three journalists.