BERLIN — Warren Buffett, whose business and investment acumen has made him one of the world's wealthiest men, said in an interview published Sunday he believes the U.S. economy is already in a recession.

Asked by Germany's Der Spiegel weekly whether he thinks the U.S. could still avoid a recession, he said that as far as the average person is concerned, it's already here.

"I believe that we are already in a recession," Buffet was quoted by Spiegel as saying. "Perhaps not in the sense as defined by economists. ... But people are already feeling the effects of a recession."

"It will be deeper and longer than what many think," he added.

The 77-year-old chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. was in Europe last week for what he called a "deferred shopping tour," looking for possible acquisitions.

Omaha-based Berkshire has about $35 billion in cash and is looking to invest. Berkshire's subsidiaries include insurance, clothing, furniture, natural gas, corporate jet and candy companies. Berkshire also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch Cos.