This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, June 3, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Why are stocks still tanking when the economy is clearly improving? It's got to be bugging this next guy. With us now, the U.S. Commerce secretary, Don Evans. Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming.
DON EVANS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: Sure, Neil. Good to be with you.
CAVUTO: It is weird, right? We are getting all these good economic numbers, and the market keeps dropping. What's going on?
EVANS: Well, I think there's probably a little investor confidence issue that we are going to have to work our way through. There have been a number of issues that relate to Wall Street and the market that have been well publicized in the press and causing investors some concern. But we'll work our way through it. Like you say, the economy is very, very sound and very strong. And when you look at the fundamentals, inflation is down, interest rates are down, factory orders are up, consumer confidence is up.
EVANS: And so, when you look at the long-term fundamentals of this economy, they all look very strong and these are just a few issues that we will work our way through.
CAVUTO: It's interesting, Secretary, because when you talk about things that are up, cynicism is up too about the reliability of corporate bookkeeping, the reliability of some CEOs, whether they've been on the up and up. And I think a lot of investors are pulling back and saying a pox on all your houses. Are they overdoing it?
EVANS: They are, Neil. Listen, our system has been as successful as it has over the last couple hundred years because people in this country are basically honest and they are basically decent people with integrity that tell the truth. And, you know, every now and then, you know, there have been people, you know, who get off the track. And that is what's happened.
We have had a few in the last six months or so that have caused people some concern. Trust is key. I mean, you just absolutely have to have an organization that people can trust. And that is what people are starting to question a little bit now. They are trying to pick between those that they, you know, feel have a good, honest set of books and those that, you know, they are not so sure of. But we will work our way through it.
CAVUTO: But, you know, Secretary, you are a man steeped in the private enterprise. You have done very well in private life. Certainly, you folks and the president on down must be looking at Wall Street and wondering whether it is going to be a big election issue. Do you think it is?
EVANS: I don't think so at all. I think that the American people are very pleased that the president cut their taxes. I mean, I think that's one of the reasons this economy is doing so well, as a matter of fact.
CAVUTO: Yes, but you are a great student of financial history too. You know, generally, the incumbent in office doesn't do well if the market is not doing well too, not just the economy.
EVANS: Well, the economy is doing well. And, you know, I think we are going through a period of kind of rationalization after a stock market going up dramatically from 1998 to 2000. We are going through a period where it is time to consolidate a little bit, and we are doing that and the economy is doing that.
CAVUTO: So, is this overkill on the downside?
EVANS: Well, I think the market got a little bit lofty during the 1998-2000 period.
CAVUTO: And I should stress you were saying that back then when it wasn't cool to say it.
EVANS: I was indeed. I was indeed.
CAVUTO: But here is the big worry, Secretary, that right now, you have confidence in the administration, which remains high, confidence in the economy, which remains oddly high, confidence in the market, which is very low. Can you still have them all working like that?
EVANS: Well, you know, again, I think we have to have patience. Keep eye on the ball of the economy. If the economy is fundamentally sound, and it is. Is the economy fundamentally in positive condition? And I think, yes, it is. And so, you know, as long as we keep our eye on that, I think we will be fine.
CAVUTO: All right. You have been dealing as well with the Russians. You are just back from Russia yourself. And they have been more, I've said, more supportive to our interests than have indeed the Europeans. Is it that black and white?
EVANS: Well, listen, they are our friends and we are going to work with them. They've got an economy that is turning around. They've got an economy that is moving into the global economy...
CAVUTO: But they've all but ignored OPEC, right?
EVANS: Yes. I mean, listen, and we are working very close with them in their energy sector. We're very anxious to see them increase their energy production, move into the global energy supply so that we will have secure, stable supply of energy in this country. And so, we are going to help them every way that we can and work with them.
CAVUTO: Do you find it odd that the Europeans are jumping all over us on tariffs and countertariffs and, I mean...
EVANS: Yes, I mean, you know, why don't we talk about beef hormones or why don't we talk about, you know, GMOs? Why don't we talk about some issues that they don't want to seem to address. I mean...
CAVUTO: Yes, but I don't ever remember, Secretary, this kind of agita expressed by so many Europeans.
EVANS: Well, I know it. I mean, listen, all we are talking about is, you know, free trade and fair trade. We want a level playing field and fair trade. And we are just going to continue and enforce our laws, administer our laws here in America...
CAVUTO: So, you don't see a trade war coming?
EVANS: I don't. No, not at all.
CAVUTO: Secretary, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Don Evans is the Commerce secretary of these United States. Thank you, sir.
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