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March 10, 2009 – 5:43AM

Billionaire Warren Buffett says the US economy could recover in five years, likening the current battle against prolonged recession as a Pearl Harbour-like situation during World War II.

I think that economy will be fine in five years, but I wish we’d get there faster,” said Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, in an interview with CNBC.

“America’s best days are ahead, but how fast we’ll go there is in question.”

He described the current situation, in which unemployment is at a 25-year high and stocks have plunged to 12 year lows, as “an economic Pearl Harbour” and “an important war which could be won”.

Japanese planes attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, leaving more than 2,000 servicemen dead. The surprise strike drew the US into World War II.

Buffett, who heads the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, said the Federal Reserve’s “prompt and wise action” had prevented the situation from “getting even worse” as the central bank cut interest rates to virtually zero and took other steps to reign in turmoil.

Asked about the poor economic recovery and plunging inflation, he said “it will depend on the wisdom of government’s politics”.

“I’ve never seen Americans more fearful,” he said. “It takes five minutes to become fearful, much more time to regain confidence. The system does not work without confidence,” he said.


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