Euro zone not working, words alone won't fix it: Buffett

Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:46am EST
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By Chikafumi Hodo

IWAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Europe's debt crisis had shown up a "major flaw" in the 17-member euro zone system and it would take more than words to fix it.

"There is a major flaw in the euro system ... I do know the system as presently designed has a major flaw and that flaw won't be corrected just by words," he told CNBC during his first trip to Japan on Monday.

Buffett, dubbed the 'Oracle of Omaha' for his long track record as a value investor, said he had no idea how Europe's sovereign debt crisis, which started in Greece two years ago and rages on, would end, though he noted there were good valuations among companies in Europe.

"Not in the debt space, but in the equity space there are opportunities. I can think of a dozen euro stocks that are attractive ... there are stocks I like and wonderful businesses.

"We bought Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote) earlier. I could buy more if the price came down," said the 81-year-old chief of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote), referring to the British retailer.

Buffett earlier told reporters in Iwaki City in northeast Japan that he also sees opportunities to invest in the country and was not deterred by either the March earthquake or a scandal engulfing camera and medical device maker Olympus (7733.T: Quote).

Making a trip that he had canceled in March due to the earthquake and tsunami, Buffett told reporters: "My view on Japanese people and Japanese industries is unchanged. We just had a demonstration over months that the tsunami did not stop Japanese business and the people."

"Olympus doesn't change my view at all on Japanese investments," Buffett said, referring to a widening accounting scandal at the company, which has admitted hiding losses for decades through improper accounting, raising questions about Japanese corporate governance standards.   Continued...