NEW YORK, Mar 1 Reuters) - Warren Buffett said the U.S. has passed the worst of what he called an economic Pearl Harbor, yet admitted that the recovery could be slow, including at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc
We got past Pearl Harbor, Buffett said on Monday on CNBC television. We will win the war, and it's going slightly our way.
Buffett nevertheless said business is slow in many areas, as consumers adopt a more cautious mindset about spending.
Berkshire itself has about 80 operating businesses that sell such things as car insurance, carpeting, ice cream, industrial components, paint and underwear.
There's a few businesses that have really had a fair amount of bounce, while others show no improvement, he said. It's getting better, but at a very, very slow pace.
A $26.5-billion takeover last month of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp, the second-largest U.S. railroad, cost Berkshire the last of its triple-A ratings from major credit agencies.
Buffett raised about half of the $15.9 billion of cash used for the takeover, Berkshire's largest, in credit markets.
He said the downgrades had virtually no impact on Berkshire, perhaps costing just a few hundredths of a percentage point in extra yield on debt it issues.
I think we deserve a quadruple-A rating, which does not exist, he joked.
On Saturday, Berkshire published its annual report. This included Buffett's widely-read shareholder letter, in which he struck a more optimistic tone than a year earlier. Full-year profit at the Omaha, Nebraska-based company rose 61 percent.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Derek Caney)