Billionaire Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy appears weaker than he thought it would be as recently as last fall, but that doesn't change his optimistic long-term view of the country's prospects.
Buffett appeared on CNBC Monday and addressed a variety of topics after releasing his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders over the weekend. The more than 90 companies owned by Berkshire give Buffett a complex and detailed view of how the economy is affecting different U.S. sectors.
"Business is a little softer in many places than I anticipated four or five months ago. That doesn't mean it's in reverse," said Buffett, who is Berkshire's chairman and CEO.
The economy continues growing slowly, and Buffett is confident the U.S. economy will improve over time, but plunging oil prices have had a significant impact.
Thousands of jobs have been lost in the oil industry, the budgets and local economies of producing states have come under severe pressure and energy companies have had billions shaved from their market value. Yet Buffett said that the benefit for the vast majority of Americans trickles in slowly every time they fill up their gas tanks.
"The country will grow in value over time," he said.