In an exclusive "This Week" interview with anchor Christiane Amanpour, Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said the U.S. government took the correct actions in September 2008 to avoid a cataclysmic financial collapse. In an interview to air on Sunday, Nov. 28, he said, "you go back to September of 2008, we faced a financial crisis like we've never faced, even including the Great Depression in terms of what was likely to happen within a month if action wasn't taken."
"So that was very, very, very real, and people did the right thing at that time, in my view, to head off something that would have caused us to go off the cliff," he said.
The full Buffett interview will air on a special Thanksgiving edition of "This Week" focused on The Giving Pledge, a major philanthropic effort, spearheaded by Buffet, and Bill and Melinda Gates.
President Obama will award Buffett a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, early next year.
Today Buffett, known as "The Oracle of Omaha" for his wise investment decisions, sees most economic indicators moving in the right direction.
"I'm in 70 some businesses at Berkshire so I get figures every day on what's going on. And, week by week, things are getting a little better," he said. "If you look at the year 2010 right straight through, our businesses have generally been on a mildly upward trajectory. Not the ones connected with homebuilding. But, if you take the other 70, they have gotten better."
Wall Street did a collective double-take when Buffett hired a little-known investor named Todd Combs in October to take over "a significant portion" of Berkshire Hathaway's investments. Combs, 39, is now considered a leading contender to take over managing much of Buffett's investments when the CEO retires.
Amanpour asked Buffett why he chose Combs.
"He's good," Buffett replied. "I mean, people thought, you know, maybe I should reach out for a big name, but I'd rather have a two-year-old Secretariat than a 10-year-old Seabiscuit. So I went with the Secretariat," he said, referring to the Triple Crown-winning horse.
Amanpour asked Buffett about Berkshire Hathaway selling some big-name stocks. "You, Berkshire Hathaway, have just sold Home Depot, CarMax, and offloaded a big stake in Nike. Everybody wants to know why," Amanpour said.
"It's pretty simple," Buffett replied. "A fellow named Lou Simpson has been managing a portion of the Berkshire portfolio for 15 years now, and he is leaving at the end of the year. He's 74 and in a year he said that he was going to -- wanted to retire and that's his portfolio that's being liquidated," he said.
Amanpour asked him if the sales were part of a larger plan. "Some people are saying you … might have something up your sleeve. You might make another big acquisition. Anything you can let us into?" she asked.
"I wish they were right," he said laughing. "No. It was totally -- we're liquidating a portfolio of his that had maybe 12 stocks in it. Now they'll all be gone by year end," Buffett said.