As concerns mount that the United States is headed for a recession, two famous minds offered opposing takes on what's in store for the U.S. economy.
In one corner was the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett; in the other, the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
Speaking at the 25th anniversary dinner of the Economic Club of Washington, Buffett said that it is unlikely the U.S. economy will fall into another recession. He said the chances of that happening are "very low."
Buffett, who blames both political sides for the budget deficit, once again called for raising taxes and cutting spending.
"The problem is the Democrats don't want to talk about what expenditures they would cut and the Republicans don't want to talk about raising revenues," he said.
Buffett said "the big question" remains what's ahead for the euro.
"We've got this system where they're half in and half out," said Buffett, who is currently auctioning off a lunch with himself this week on eBay for charity. "They have to reconcile these things."
Reflecting on the Eurozone he said there is the possibility the U.S. will feel a "spill over" effect from Europe – which some would argue has already happened.
Recession 2013: Clinton's Take
In a taped interview that aired Tuesday on CNBC's "Closing Bell," former President Clinton said he thought the U.S. economy was already in a recession.
Clinton called out Republican efforts to cut the deficit, saying they jeopardize the country's chances to get out of the debt debacle.
"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election," Clinton said.
"They will probably have to put everything off until early next year," he added. "That's probably the best thing to do right now."
Clinton made the unexpected endorsement of extending the Bush tax cuts but added that he is not in support of extending them for the wealthiest. This echoes the fundamental idea behind the Buffett Rule.
Clinton was also quick to blame Europe – saying "this European thing that's having a bigger impact than people know" – and politics for the current economic mess.
"The thing that cost jobs here has been the Congress's policies," said Clinton.
For the Democratic Party, Clinton has been worrisome of late. Twice now he has publicly opposed U.S. President Barack Obama, while many Democrats still look to the former president for party leadership.
After the interview a statement was issued by Clinton's office to "better explain" his comments to the public.
More Weak Reports Fuel Recession Talk
Debating about whether or not we are technically in a recession could escalate fears arising from several weak economic reports recently issued.
The U.S. Labor Department issued an awfully disappointing U.S. jobs report last week. Only 69,000 new jobs were added in May, less than half of the expected 150,000 jobs.
Coupled with the jobs numbers, the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose from 8.1% to 8.2% as job seekers returned to the workforce, the Labor Department report revealed.
To make matters worse, adjustments to previous months showed the economy gained fewer jobs in March and April than originally believed. March's employment numbers were reduced by 11,000 jobs to total 143,000, while April's dropped by 38,000 to total an awful 77,000.
On Wednesday the Labor Department released its Q1 productivity numbers which were disappointing as well. After an initial report cited a 0.5% decline, the Labor Department revised its numbers saying productivity declined 0.9% the past quarter.
Basically that means Americans are working more and producing less. And to top it off wage growth continues to trail inflation.
Adding up the recent jobs and productivity reports leave us with a pretty grim outlook for the state of the U.S. economy.
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U.S. productivity falls 0.9% in first quarter