There are reasons for optimism inside the U.S. economy, according to Warren Buffett. Just not for everyone.
The billionaire investor, cited as the third-richest person in the world by Forbes, said in an interview with the CEO of BusinessWire -- a unit of Buffett's own conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway that publishes press releases -- that while there have been improvements in some areas of the economy, many others haven't fared so well.
Winners, Buffett says, include corporations, who have seen good equity returns, as well as the wealthiest American citizens. The losers? The housing market and average American worker.
"Through the tax code, there has been class warfare waged, and my class has won," Buffett told Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz at a luncheon in honor of the company's 50th anniversary. "It's been a rout."
Between 1979 and 2007, the richest one percent of Americans saw their incomes rise by 275 percent, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office. The bottom fifth of Americans experience only a 20 percent jump.
It's no secret that Buffett is opposed to the increasing income inequality in the U.S. In August, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO criticized the low tax rates for the richest Americans, including himself, in an op-ed in The New York Times. His stance on raising taxes on the wealthy led to President Obama dubbing his proposal to boost taxes on millionaires the "Buffett rule."
Despite the less-than-stellar economy, Buffett has made two substantial investments in American businesses in recent months. In August, Buffett announced a $5 billion investment in struggling Bank of America. The bank has dealt with a series of publicity blunders, most notably a failed debit card fee, but some forsee a strong comeback in 2012.
Just this week Buffett also surprised many by investing $10.7 billion in IBM, rare for a man known for generally avoiding investments in tech companies.
Though, the American economy will recover -- albeit slowly -- according to Buffett, the situation in Europe may be more complicated due to the ties between the 17 euro zone nations.
"Don't ever give up the right to issue your own currency," Buffett said, referring to the institution of the standardized euro currency.
Here are ten other big moments in Warren Buffett's career:
In 1964, Warren Buffett purchased shares of an American Express wracked by the "salad oil scandal." The purchases would go on to net him $3.7 Billion, according to 24/7 Wall St. The move would later be compared to his more recent investments in Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.
In 1973, Warren Buffet began to acquire stock in the Washington Post Company, eventually investing $10 million in the compnay. Buffett has said the impressive management style of publisher Katharine Graham provoked him to invest in the paper. Buffet became a member of the Washington Post's board of directors. He stepped down in early 2011.
Warren Buffet began buying stock in Coca-Cola Company in 1988. One of Buffet's most lucrative investments of all time, the stock price rose from $10 to $45 per share in just four years, and by the end of 2003 the original $1 billion investment was worth over $10 billion.
In 2008, Buffett flew in the face of a full-blown financial crisis and bought $5 billion worth of Goldman Sachs shares, netting an eventual $1.6 billion in dividends, according to CNBC.
Despite the recession officially declared over, Buffett told CNBC in September 2010 that the economy was "still in a recession. And -- and we're not gonna be out of it for awhile, but we will get out of it."
During the U.S. debt ceiling debate over the summer, Buffett told CNBC that the the Republican-controlled Congress was "trying to use the incentive now that we're going to blow your brains out, America, in terms of your debt worthiness over time."
After Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. credit, Buffett told Bloomberg TV that the country deserved a "quadruple A" rating, not a downgrade -- a remark later referenced by President Obama.
In a New York Times op-ed Buffett criticized the low tax rates of U.S. billionaires. "[W]hile the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks," Buffett wrote.
On August 25th 2011, Buffett announced that he would purchase $5 billion worth of shares in beleaguered Bank of America. According to CNBC, he reportedly "dreamt this idea up...while he was in the bathtub."
On Nov. 14 Warren Buffett announced he had accumulated a 5.5 percent stake -- 64 million shares -- in IBM stock. Buffet said in an interview with CNBC that when he looked at IBM's annual report this year, "I read it through a different lens." Since Buffett started building his stake in IBM, the company's shares rose about 17 percent, Reuters reported.