Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 12:21 UK

Buffett sees credit crisis easing

A portrait of Warren Buffett
Forbes magazine ranks Warren Buffet as the world's richest man

Investment guru Warren Buffett says the worst of the global credit crunch is over for Wall Street, but not for the man or woman on the street.

The chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway said there would be "a lot of pain to come" for mortgage holders.

He made the comments as Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting got under way in Omaha, Nebraska, attended by a record 31,000 people.

The meeting has become known as "Woodstock for Capitalists".

Mr Buffet's investment decisions often go against the market and are followed religiously by many.

However, Berkshire Hathaway, the company Mr Buffet took over in 1965, has not escaped the credit crisis.

It saw its first quarter profit tumble 64%, hurt by losses tied to derivatives contracts and a steep slide in insurance premiums.

"The worst of the crisis in Wall Street is over," Mr Buffett told Bloomberg Television shortly before the weekend meeting began.

"In terms of people with individual mortgages, there's still a lot of pain left to come," he added.

Succession fears

Mr Buffett, ranked the world's richest man by Forbes magazine, praised the Federal Reserve's rescue of Bear Stearns.

He said the move avoided financial market chaos.

"I think the Fed did the right thing in stepping in on Bear Stearns," Mr Buffett said.

"Just imagine the thousands of counterparties around the world having to undo contracts."

The central bank helped broker the buyout by JP Morgan, after financial institutions became reluctant to lend to Wall Street's fifth-largest investment bank.

At the meeting, Mr Buffett also tried to reassure shareholders that Berkshire Hathaway would be fine once he had gone, but the 77-year-old billionaire offered few new details of the company's succession plan.

Berkshire Hathaway has stakes in American Express, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart Stores and Tesco.

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