Kara Swisher

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Warren Buffett at Fortune Women's Conference: On the Economy and George Clooney


Folksy set was on the highest burner possible at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s conference this morning, as legendary financial investor Warren Buffett took to the stage.

Buffett, who was interviewed by Fortune’s terrific Carol Loomis onstage in Carlsbad, Calif., held forth to the crowd–made up mostly of women–having instructed Loomis previously to “do anything with me…I like your crowd.”

And, of course, the crowd loved Buffett, who has become a Midwestern Yoda, dispensing snippets of sage advice and clever aphorisms to unabashed fans.

Oh, yes, he also has turned himself into one of the world’s richest men while doing it, presiding for decades over his Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) conglomerate.

In the interview, Loomis quizzed Buffett about a range of topics, mostly centering on the economy and the rescue of Wall Street by the federal government.

“I think they’ve done a terrific job, all things considered,” said Buffett about the performance of regulators.

While he said he did not agree with all of the more costly aspects of the various bailouts, he noted that the dire situation needed drastic action.

“We were right at the brink….This country was becoming not only economically dysfunctional, but inoperative,” said Buffett about the econalypse. “We came so close to a meltdown.”

Today, he is much more sanguine about the economic situation, while also noting it was not all sunshine and daisies.

“There are no green shots, but I don’t see anything getting worse either,” said Buffett.

Joking, he noted that the recovery could be quicker if the housing stock was made smaller by blowing up one million houses and allowing “14-year olds to start cohabiting.”

It was an adorkably funny comment, as was his answer to a question from an audience member about who should play him in a movie of his life: George Clooney, of course, but “Danny DeVito’s out.”

Mostly, what struck BoomTown was Buffett’s firm belief in the strength of the system that we have built in the U.S.

“This system works magnificently,” he said flatly.

Well, Buffett is magnificent for dang sure.

Here’s are video snippets of him at the conference–sorry it is a little tinny–talking about women’s underwear, the resilience of the U.S. and why it will be okay in the end:

[Photo courtesy of Fortune magazine.]

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