Warren Buffett's $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs stock and his nod of approval for the Treasury Department's bailout plan offer one vote of confidence for the markets. The Oracle of Omaha told CNBC he describes the threat as an "economic Pearl Harbor" that makes a government bailout "absolutely necessary."
Goldman raised a total of $10 billion in funding, and Buffett has an option to buy another $5 billion in common stock over the next five years (the first $5 billion is in preferred shares).
Too bad he's not an elected official. Buffett's comments might cheer up some investors (stocks are mixed early today), but possible congressional approval of the $700 billion bailout plan remains the biggest story on Wall Street this week.
As testimony continues today from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Congress seems unimpressed by the same sense of urgency echoing from regulators. That's really the only thing that matters this week for stocks.
Ben Bernanke continued to argue for quick resolution this morning.
"Stabilization of our financial system is an essential precondition for economic recovery," Bernanke said, adding that we still face "grave threats" that require quick action from Congress.
He's worried that the longer the uncertainty continues, the worse it will be for the economy.
"The intensification of financial stress in recent weeks, which will make lenders still more cautious about extending credit to households and business, could prove a significant further drag on growth," he said.
Lawmakers are concerned over the terms of the bailout, arguing over less important bits like CEO pay caps and important issues like regulatory oversight and the price the government will set for all that toxic debt.
Most recently, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican and the ranking Senate Banking Committee member, told the WSJ that he's likely to vote down the proposal.
"I've never supported a direct bailout," Mr. Shelby said. "I voted against Chrysler when I was a freshman congressman. They said, 'Well, Chrysler will fail.' And well maybe if it'd failed then we wouldn't have the problems facing us today."
Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. It looks like a few more folks might be in for another costly bailout.