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This is the first part of an unofficial transcript of the entire one-hour interview conducted by Becky Quick.
BECKY QUICK: I don't know how much you heard of the Wells Fargo (earnings) numbers that we were just --
WARREN BUFFETT: I heard a little bit.
BECKY: What was your immediate takeaway, and I know all you heard is --
BUFFETT: I didn't get the earnings at all. But I got the charge-offs at 5.4 billion. That's exactly what I would have expected. I think they expect them to peak toward the end of 2010, but that number is exactly what I would expect.
BECKY: What other headlines would you like us to pull up? What else would you be interested in hearing about?
BUFFETT: Well, my guess is that the revenue and all of that is more or less like I expected. I mean, Wells, right straight through this period has done pretty much exactly what they said they would do and they've made money consistently through it. They've run into much larger losses than anybody anticipated three or four years ago but they can handle them very easily. Last year we talked about 'em having 40 billion of pre-provision income in 2009, and you know, they had it, and that easily handles 20 billion, roughly, of losses.
BECKY: They also issued a lot more shares though, to pay back the government. What did you think of that?
BUFFETT: I didn't like it. (Laughs.) No, I mean, the government forced them to issue the shares. The government's done a lot of good things for the economy and net I'm a beneficiary and Berkshire Hathaway is a beneficiary of the things overall they've done. But they cost us real money at Wells Fargo.
BECKY: But was it the right move by the government or not?
BUFFETT: Well, it was the right move by the government to enter - to show that they were willing to act very promptly and decisively. The key actions by the government actually were in September and October of 2008. At that point, if the government had showed any hesitation about stepping in and doing whatever it took to get us past a financial panic, you know, things would be a lot different today. So the government did the right thing in acting - They didn't have to do this A, action A or action B or action C perfectly. What they did have to show is that it was not going to be a Herbert Hoover type situation and that they were going to jump in and do whatever it took....MORE
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