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Transcript: Commerce Sec'y Carlos Gutierrez

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 18, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Not much buying conviction [on Wall Street]. It kind of makes you wonder what the folks inside here are thinking.

It's an issue I took up moments ago with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez (search).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: The economy has always been of very intense focus from this administration.

And, Neil, our economy last year, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture beyond the numbers today or the very short term, our economy grew 4.4 percent last year. That's one of the fastest rates of growth in the world and, clearly, the fastest rate of growth of any industrialized nation.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Are you worried, though, that it's petering out?

GUTIERREZ: Well, the important thing is to keep it going.

And our GDP (search) in the first quarter should continue to show growth. And the important thing now is that we are going to show growth over growth. Unemployment is down to 5.2 percent. The president has said that we're not satisfied. We're not complacent. But that 5.2 percent number is lower than the average of each of the last three decades. We have created over three million jobs since August of 2003.

Household income is up 10 percent since this president took office. So, we have got something good going and we want to keep it going by continuing to create the conditions that allow jobs to be created and businesses to flourish.

CAVUTO: But I guess the problem, Secretary, or at least the perceived problem, is that some companies are wondering whether that remains. I think IBM in its report and, to a limited degree, in 3M's report Monday, they all seem to say that something happened around mid-March where things kind of fell off a cliff. Things are never that black and white.

But does your data confirm what their data seems to confirm, that things slowed down markedly beginning last month?

GUTIERREZ: Well, as you know, we just saw data coming out of the Commerce Department. Our retail sales in nominal terms were up about 5.4 percent. If you strip out price increases, they were up 4 percent. And that's on top of very strong growth last year. So, we're getting growth over growth.

Industrial production was up about 3.5 percent. That's also growth over growth. So, the numbers we're seeing on a macro level suggest that our economy continues to grow. And I want to emphasize again, we're now showing growth over a period of strong growth.

CAVUTO: But let me ask you, Secretary, there are many who are arguing whether — high energy prices is one thing and the uptick in something you are familiar with from your old job, cereal prices, commodity prices, that's another thing — but that Alan Greenspan (search) might have made this situation worse by continuing to hike rates in the face of what was a hiccupping economy.

GUTIERREZ: Well, again, Neil, what we're seeing is continued expansion over a period of expansion.

We are continuing to see the best numbers in the industrialized world. The short-term numbers that we have seen at the Commerce Department have shown us that our retail sales continue to grow, that our industrial production continues to grow. Very importantly, we're seeing a boost in capital expenditure. So, not only are consumers driving the economy, but we're now seeing businesses coming back in and investing for the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: All right, Commerce Secretary Gutierrez.

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