Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Warren Buffett warned a panel investigating the causes of the financial crisis Wednesday that states and localities may face “terrible” financial distress in the next five to 10 years that in turn could lead some to look to the federal government for bailouts.

In raising concerns about the possibility of severe disruptions in the municipal market, Buffett was responding to a question posed by Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was meeting in New York to discuss the role of rating agencies in the crisis.

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