FedEx CEO: Energy Prices Cannot Be Forgotten During Mortgate Crisis

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: One thing in the middle of this whole focus on a financial rescue. We forgot about drill, baby, drill. Remember that?

And that is one that upsets my next guest, because they have tabled any vote on drilling to focus on this. Fred Smith, the CEO of shipping giant FedEx, wonders if these guys can, I guess, walk and chew gum at the same time.

So, Fred, you're — you are not happy about — about that part not getting done, right?

FREDERICK SMITH, CEO, FEDEX CORPORATION: Well, Neil, this is an issue of enormous importance.

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And people forget that the proximate cause of the mortgage crisis was the run-up in fuel prices and food prices, to a lesser degree, that made these subprime borrowers unable to meet their mortgage payments. Now, there were all kinds of things that preceded that, that have been well reported upon, the leveraging of Freddie Mac and Fannie, and so forth.

But the run-up in energy prices has been a huge detriment to the U.S. economy over the past three or four years. So, it has to be addressed, no question about it.

CAVUTO: Yes, but I tell you — I tell you, Fred, they — I'm sorry, buddy, but I tell you, they have tabled that. They're not going to deal with that. They`re not going to deal with drilling. They`re not going to be dealing with that. They have focused on this.

And I would imagine you are not too tickled by that.

SMITH: Well, listen, we, on the Energy Security Leadership Council, released our report yesterday, not so much for the Congress to do something tomorrow, because they are preoccupied, but hopefully to get these recommendations out before the next administration takes office in January, so they can do something about it.

CAVUTO: All right, well, it does not look like they are. You might be a better read of this, but my experience covering Congress, right, is that — that they are not great at multitasking. It`s one big issue at a time. And I know most folks at home have to multitask. And you, as a CEO, have to multitask and juggle running your business and your various other activities.

These guys, it is all or nothing. So, they have apparently said on energy is, nothing now, everything rescue now. What happens now?

SMITH: Well, I think, for the moment, you are right. They're not going to do anything on energy.

And, again, that is why we are focused on the next Congress and new the administration, to try to take some action to reduce our dependence on imported petroleum, which is, arguably, after terrorism and nuclear proliferation, the biggest national security and national economic risk we face.

CAVUTO: Well, again — and I know you`re a gentleman — they don't seem to agree. So, that ain't happening.

SMITH: Well, I...

CAVUTO: Maybe, with the new president, Fred, it's going to happen. But it ain't happening now.

SMITH: Well, that's — well, I agree with that.

I mean, I have said twice, Neil, we don't anticipate anything is going to happen between now and the election and the new administration. But the country has got to have a plan. It's kicked this can down the road for over 30 years.


SMITH: We are importing over 60 percent of the petroleum we use. Ninety percent of the world's reserves are owned by national oil companies, many owned by countries who — who dislike the United States or are overt enemies to us.

CAVUTO: All right.

SMITH: We simply have to reduce the amount of imported petroleum we use in our economy...


SMITH: ... or we are going to be facing a crisis that makes the one that you're covering so well today look minor in comparison.

CAVUTO: I think you are right. I think you are right.

Frederick Smith, FedEx chairman and CEO, thank you very much.

SMITH: You're welcome.


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