Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

GEITHNER:
It's likely to be slower than a typical recovery, again, because it's going to take us a while to grow out of this. To sort of earn our way out of this. To save more, de-lever, repair the things that were broken. That's going to make it a slower, more gradual recovery than normal. But -- we have a very good chance, working with countries around the world to make sure that we achieve -- we achieve that relatively soon. And -- and people are worried still about whether things will fade, growth will fade as stimulus fades.

SAWYER:
Your instincts say it's a v and not a w? However slow --

GEITHNER:
I don't --

SAWYER:
-- a v?

GEITHNER:
I don't -- Diane, I don't do the letters. And again, as I said, economists -- I'm not an economist. Economists don't know so much about the future. What we do know is that it's going to take a sustained commitment from your government, from this government, governments around the world, to fix this -- the cause of this crisis and to get growth back on track. We're at the beginning. A lot of progress so far. We're gettin' money back from the financial system. We're starting to unwind these exceptional things. We're not going to be involved in the auto industry, the financial industry,any -- a day longer than we need to. And we're seeing the first signs of a path to exit.

SAWYER:
Going to -- extend unemployment benefits?

GEITHNER:
Very likely the Congress will do that. And they should.

SAWYER:
What about the concern a lot of people have about the commercial real estate and foreclosures, defaults?

GEITHNER:
Still -- still a lot of -- pressure ahead for the financial system, even in real estate. Again, people made a lot of bets on a -- on a future that was more stable than was realistic.

SAWYER:
But is that the next big potential bomb to detonate?

GEITHNER:
No, I think that the U.S. economy can weather those pressures ahead. Because of the scale of support we provided to the financial system, and that the government's committed to provide. I think we can manage and weather those challenges, we just got a lot of challenges ahead still. And, you know -- you had -- just had a lot of people in a lot of industries, particularly in real estate -- just take too much risk.

SAWYER:
Flash forward a year from now, again, talk to somebody sitting out in their kitchen this morning and making breakfast and terrified ...

GEITHNER:
A year from now, those -- growth will be stronger, unemployment will be lower, it'll be easier to find a job, incomes will be growing more rapidly, people will able to be more confident in the value of their savings. They'll be more likely to put their kids through college. Things will be getting better. But again, it's important for people to understand, it took a while to get into this. It's still going to take a while to get us out. There's no easy, quick, immediate fix to these things. It's going to require a long period of change in behavior. The government has to help that transition. Help that transition. And we're making some progress.

SAWYER:
A couple of personal questions. You -- you -- did you know people who've lost their jobs? In your family?

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