Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 28, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: My next guest says he can just see the headlines tomorrow: “GDP Up a Whopping 7.2 Percent, But Economy Not Out of Woods.” Or “Economy Sees Fastest Growth in 19 years, but Wall Street Still Unimpressed.”

Former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch says enough is enough with the “buts” already, it’s time we start saying bravo.


JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Yes, a lot of people are frightened. They’re frightened to say that it’s a good economy because they’ve been burned before -- analysts, media, et cetera -- and I think, as I said this morning, if you’re a Democratic hopeful, you sure hope that this economy isn’t roaring.

CAVUTO: What they say, though, Jack, is that this can’t continue, that’s the but they’re adding, that 7.2 percent, but just try to top that. What do you make of that?

WELCH: Oh, I think they’re probably right. I don’t think its going to better than 7.2 percent here. If you can get 7.2 percent this quarter, 3 percent to 5 percent in the fourth quarter, average those two out at 6 percent for the second half of the year, Neil, that’s some economy.

CAVUTO: But, Jack, there are always the doubters, and you mentioned it in your column talking about good earnings, but a good economic number, but. Is it politically motivated?

WELCH: Well, I think, as I said today, there are two cases. The analysts and the journalists hyped the last bubble, and they’re going to wait to be sure this is for real, and they’re going to be the last ones on board.

CAVUTO: So is that a bad thing?

WELCH: No, but I think it doesn’t recognize, as I tried to point out today, some real tremendous performances. I think we keep forgetting that these companies are not bricks and mortar. They’re people, and people are breaking their backs to get these companies righted, and as they do it, all they read about is what’s potentially wrong with them.

And I think that if we’re going to be productive and we’re going to win in the global economy, we need to get every person in the game, and you can’t keep beating on them. There’s got to be, as I said today, a bravo or congratulations every now and then.

CAVUTO: But do you think that the media, for example, would have treated the data today or the data we’ve been getting recently any differently had it been occurring during the Clinton administration?

Look, I think, right now, we have in the country the most polarized thing you and I have ever seen, it was bad when Clinton was being bashed over his incidents. It has reached new heights now.

You’ve got George Soros getting a platform in "Fortune" to compare Bush to tyrants of the last century. You’ve got the "Vanity Fair" editor calling him all kinds of names in every monthly letter. You’ve got "The New York Times" every Sunday in the business section opening it up to nothing but trouble.

I mean you’ve got a pounding going on here from the left that is unbelievable.

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, for corporate CEOs, they don’t all share your glee that things are changing, they don’t also share the notion that they’re inclined to hire any time soon, hence the but you get about a jobs recovery here. Do you buy that?

WELCH: No. Look, I think if you’re a CEO you’re going to be cautious before you start laying on costs, but you saw the inventory number came down, they’re going to have to replenish inventories in the fourth quarter, and I think in any recovery, Neil -- if you look at the ‘92 recovery, I’m not sure of the exact statistics, but I think the jobs didn’t start picking up to well into ‘92 when the recovery had started in the third quarter of ‘91.

CAVUTO: If you’re President Bush and you’re looking at this economic news, you know the economy is going your way a year from now, so do you think the one thing that could hurt the president is the one thing he thought would help him earlier, Iraq?

WELCH: Look, as I’ve told you on other occasions, I think Iraq’s a tough slog. So was the recovery of Germany.

I think maybe we didn’t say all that we thought it might be afterwards, maybe we didn’t know how tough it would be to bring it under control, but it’s a tough slog. We’re in it for the long haul, and I think he’s going to be showing continued progress. There’s more progress now than you read about.

Don’t get me wrong, it is awful when you see bodies lost. We’ve lost, I guess, as of today more than since the war ended than we did during the war. That’s terrible. This is a tough battle, and I think it’s for a just cause, and I think the country will rally around the president if he continues to make progress, tells it like it is, and has a recovering economy.


CAVUTO: All right. Still a cockeyed optimist. I’m talking about Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of GE.

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