Paul O'Neill, Treasury Secretary of the United States

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 13, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: President Bush speaking in Waco during his economic forum earlier, where he brought together some of the nation's biggest CEOs, labor leaders and everyday people. But what was actually accomplished?

Let's ask the Treasury Secretary of the United States, Paul O'Neill. Sir, thanks so much for joining us.

PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: I'm glad to be with you.

BUTTNER: Was it a good day?

O'NEILL: I thought it was a great day. You know, it was a day of high energy. I didn't know exactly what to expect. But the people -- at least the ones that I interacted with -- came with a clarity about what they wanted to say. They were very succinct in their remarks. I think they didn't abuse each other's time.

Sometimes, when you have this kind of a meeting, people will drone on and on and the people start looking at their shoe tops. I didn't see any of that today. The people were really terrific. It was high energy. The president was really energized from the things he heard from the people. And I think we got a book's worth of ideas and opinions about the strength of the economy and things we ought to consider to do. So, I thought it was a great success.

BUTTNER: Well, there's never any danger of your droning on and on, sir. You're known for being quite plain-spoken and outspoken. I wanted to ask you what do you think of the economy right now?

O'NEILL: You know, I think we're in the kind of a familiar sawtooth pattern that you see historically with recoveries. The first quarter growth was 5.1 percent, second quarter was 1.1. But if you look underneath the 1.1, what you find is that if imports had not been so high, that we would have had another 1.8 percent worth of real growth.

BUTTNER: But we're in danger of a double dip, aren't we, sir?

O'NEILL: I don't think so at all, Brenda.

BUTTNER: Where do you see us at the end of the year? What's growth at the end of the year?

O'NEILL: Between 3 and 3.5 percent real growth.

BUTTNER: From 1.1? Go ahead, sir.

O'NEILL: Well, Brenda, we went from 5.1 to 1.1.

BUTTNER: Right, that's the wrong direction.

O'NEILL: I know, but is it possible to go up four points in one quarter? The answer is obviously yes. And I think the underlying strength is higher than 1.1. You know, I believed that we would be in roughly this circumstance since October of last year. You know, and I guess in support of forecasting, I think maybe I was the only one in America who believed the fourth quarter would be positive last year. It turned out it was 2.7 percent. Now, when most of the soothsayers were saying minus two percent. So, I am pretty comfortable believing that we're in a positive track and we're going to stay there.

BUTTNER: Well, we're not a positive track with the markets though. And there are, some say, sir, who say that you should be trying to calm the markets. What do you say to Wall Street?

O'NEILL: Well, I wish it were possible to do something as simple as gurgle like a baby to make the markets feel better. And it brings to my mind Franklin Roosevelt came into office when the economy was in the deepest depression we've ever had. We didn't really get recovery in the United States until 1941. And Franklin Roosevelt was maybe one of the greatest communicators of all time. And I think the point of telling you that story is I don't think it is possible for anyone, even the great communicator like Franklin Roosevelt to talk the market into doing something...


O'NEILL: The market has got an independent mind.

BUTTNER: And so do you, sir. I'm sorry to cut you off, Mr. Treasury Secretary.

O'NEILL: That's all right, Brenda.

BUTTNER: We certainly enjoy having you here.

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