U.S. Not in a Depression?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Lots of Democrats continue to compare today to the Great Depression. This British paper is saying that America is headed for another one, "The Independent" getting flak because this picture is actually a few years old.

My next guest says we're not even close to a depression. He should know. He actually lived through the last great one.

Jeno Paulucci is the Jeno behind Jeno's frozen food empire.

So, Jeno, what do you think when everyone says, depression, depression?

Watch Neil's interview with frozen food king Jeno Paulucci

JENO PAULUCCI, FOUNDER, JENO'S INC.: Frankly, I think, Neil, that they are full of crap, for the simple reason that they never lived through a depression. So, how in the hell do they know what a depression is?


PAULUCCI: They're prophets of gloom and doom, is what it is.

CAVUTO: All right. So, tell me what that was like then vs. what we have now.

PAULUCCI: Well, I have — I have got to compare it to others that I have live with on the iron range, iron ore range of Minnesota.

And that is where you lived on a five — four-room house, $5 a month, one light bulb to a room. In order to keep warm, myself and other kids would go out and tear up wood blocks that were creosoted, which made the roads. And we would burn those in a potbellied stove. It was colder inside than outside, when it was 20, 30, 40 below.

We used to pick coal off the racks when we couldn't get the wood blocks. I worked unloading watermelon cars, whole boxcars, for 25 cents a car. Others did, too. We used to buy tennis shoes for 75 cents at Kenny's shoe store, not the $400 or $500 a pair of Jordans today.


PAULUCCI: No cell phones, no television, no cable, no radio.

If we wanted to watch a Max Schmeling foot — boxing match...

CAVUTO: Boxing match, right.

PAULUCCI: ... we had to go downtown of Hibbing and listen to an outside radio broadcast.

And you tell me now we are near a depression? My God, it is so different. People today — the other day, in Orlando, they had 74,000 people at the wrestling mania, or whatever they call it. And they paid all the way from $40 to $750 a ticket. It is just ludicrous.

CAVUTO: Do you think, Jeno — that people are saying it's so bad now that, depending on the candidate, they have got $800 billion to a trillion dollars worth of government spending planned to get us out of what they say is, at best, a serious recession, and maybe something worse.

What do you think of that?

PAULUCCI: Well, naturally, we have a serious recession. It's similar to what we had in 1985, I believe, when we had the Savings and Loan debacle, when the government had to bail out a lot of the Savings and Loan people and send Keating to jail and stuff like that.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

PAULUCCI: And it is a matter of greed that we have it again.

Like one of your previous visitors was talking about houses having to drop 50 percent. I don't believe they have to drop that much. But, yes, there is going have to be a stabilization.

It was greed on the part of people that bought them. They thought they were getting a hell of a good deal. And it was greed on the people that sold it to them.

CAVUTO: But, you know Jeno, the argument for doing something now is to make sure we don't get into the pickle we were in that you remember so well, the Great Depression. What do you think of that?

PAULUCCI: I thought it was just great that they bailed out Bear Stearns.


PAULUCCI: I didn't see anybody jumping out of that building, like they did in Wall Street during the Depression days, when one stock went on Bear Stearns from $150 to $2 and then later $10.

But it was a stabilization of the capital market, and it was very important. Then, all the publicity came on the TV that Lehman Brothers was going to go broke.


PAULUCCI: Well, Lehman Brothers just went up yesterday — and I think — What did they go up, about $4 billion?

CAVUTO: That's right. That's right.


CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Jeno, you know what tough luck is. And you have become a very successful man, building a very successful food empire as a result.

Do you think my generation, this generation, the generation that is coming after us, that we are soft?

PAULUCCI: Oh, yes, my gosh, you know, when everybody has got a cell phone. The cell phones run, what, $40 to $100 a month?

They have got GPS now in order to help you go from point A to point B. You have got the computers. You have got Internet. You have got the — whatever is on TV, because I don't really know much about computers. I don't like them, except we use them.


PAULUCCI: People have gone soft. My God. Come on.

And, so, a little bit of straightening out and doing a little more budgeting based on the family, as well as our country, is very much in order.

CAVUTO: Well, the good thing being you, Jeno, if they really are depressed, depressed people eat. And your pizza is there at the ready.

PAULUCCI: I no longer have pizzas. I have got Michelina's frozen entrees now.



CAVUTO: You have moved on.

Jeno, thank you very much.


PAULUCCI: ... little commercial.

CAVUTO: You are a class act, my friend.

I thought our viewers would appreciate your perspective, because you know what a depression is all about.

Thank you very much, Jeno.

PAULUCCI: Thank you. Nice to be here.

CAVUTO: All right.

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