Secretary Tim Geithner Discusses the 'Healthy, but Slow' Economic Recovery

GEITHNER: Well, it's going to rise from its current level, which is, you know, enormously high. And, you know, even that understates the amount of damage you've seen because people are working less, even when they're employed, and a lot of people having a hard time finding a job, stay unemployed longer. So we're at exceptionally high levels. They reflect a huge amount of damage. They cause a huge amount of uncertainty. So it's going to go higher even as growth starts to recover. And it's going to take us a while still to get through this and for growth to come back to the point where you're going to start to see businesses creating jobs rather than simply shedding them at a historic pace, which we've seen so far. That's the beginning. It's an important beginning. We've got a long way to go, though.

MORAN: When is growth going to return, do you think?

GEITHNER: Well the -- most private forecasters now see growth showing positive numbers in the second half of the year. At least by the fourth quarter. But it will be slower than is typical because, again, this economy, we've borrowed to much. You know, people across the country -- took on to much debt and they're going to want to save more. They're going to want to pay down those debt bubbles and that's going to slow the pace of recovery. That's a healthy thing. It's an important thing to go through, but it's going to mean a slower, slower recovery.

MORAN: The federal government's debt is going to 70 percent the Gross Domestic Product. Are you concerned about the inflationary? Is the country going to see raging inflation? People are concerned about that.

GEITHNER: Right. We are not going to have high inflation in the United States.

MORAN: How can you say that?

GEITHNER: Because we have an independent Federal Reserve who's core responsibility is to keep inflation low and stable over time. And if you look at this -- the Fed's record on inflation, over the last 30 years in particular, they have done an exceptionally good job as proof given their power to do.

Now we are going to have to work with Congress to bring those deficits down over time to a sustainable level as soon as we get through the crisis. So what the president proposed when he came in was, as soon as we have recovery back on track, we're going to have to bring those deficits down quite quickly quite far because unless we do that, there's a risk that interest rates will go up in the future and recovery will be arrested just as it starts getting going.

MORAN: And right now China has been buying more of that debt, financing American spending. That's not sustainable. They're saying that they are now concerned about the value of their investments in the United States.

GEITHNER: Let me just say this. No one is going to be more concerned than this president and this secretary of the Treasury, this economic team, about the important challenge of getting our fiscal position back to -- back down to earth. It is a critically important thing for us to do.

You know, when I was last serving the Treasury in the late 1990s, we helped put in place a fiscal program that produced surpluses, helped generate very high rates of private investment, a huge amount of confidence in U.S. financial assets, a big wave of growth in productivity improvements. We have a -- we also have lived through what it means to achieve that. And we all understand what it will mean for the economy if we fail to produce sustainable, fiscal position.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...