Meshing Government and Banks?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: We'll get the read now from the White House and Ed Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr. Lazear, always good to have you.


Video: Watch Neil's interview with Edward Lazear

CAVUTO: Many have attached a lot of reasons to what's going on here, but one of them is growing dissatisfaction with Washington's potential cures.


CAVUTO: And some, like Wilbur Ross, telling FOX Business Network, this is akin to socialism.

What do you think?

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LAZEAR: Well, we believe these are extraordinary times. And I think the reports that we just heard from your two correspondents make clear how extraordinary these times are. And, so, extraordinary measures need to be taken.

I think we are as sensitive to the issues of having government participate in business as your viewers. This president has never been an advocate of getting government involved in business.

But, in the current situation, we know that we do need to get capital into the markets, and we do need to make sure that -- that businesses have the ability to invest and the ability to grow. I think one of the points that your correspondents made is that this is broadly-based. This is not just the financial sector. You're seeing it in tech. You're seeing it throughout the economy.

So, we have to make sure that the steps that we take are effective in getting the economy, the real economy, back on track. And that's what we're trying to do right now.

CAVUTO: No I understand -- and I'm not putting blame on you, Ed -- that these things take time. And if you're a fan of these type of rescues -- and a lot of people are not -- they do take time.

LAZEAR: That's right.

CAVUTO: To buy up the securities alone is a $50-billion-a-month job. It's a $700 billion price tag, so you do the math on that. It's many months away.

But, if you're looking for a quick report card from the markets, the stock market is saying, it stinks. The credit markets, they're kind of in the same rough position they were when all of this started, which I guess isn't a damning indictment, but it's not as if people are just running to the credit markets on the belief that things are going to calm down.

So, are you worried that the markets are giving you a failing grade?

LAZEAR: Well, I'm certainly worried that the markets are reeling from the shock to the financial sector. There's no doubt about it.

We are confident that the plans that we have in mind -- and again, they are -- they are not finalized, but we are -- we're not sitting on our hands. We're working as quickly as we can to make sure that we get a good plan, get a plan out there and do it very quickly, for the reasons that you mentioned.

We need to get things moving again. But I think the uncertainty that's involved during this transition period is causing problems for the market. And it's for that reason that we want to get things going as quickly...

CAVUTO: But, Ed, do you think...

LAZEAR: ... as we possibly can.

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, that, when folks like Wilbur Ross, one of the most respected capitalists in the world...


CAVUTO: ... a vulture investor, if you will -- he never likes that terminology, but somebody who's become a billionaire buying intrinsic value -- and not exactly diving into this market because he's worried about the government strong-arming this market.


CAVUTO: I used those terms. He did not -- but that the government would have a larger role.

Does it worry you that you're trying to shoot this thing under control, but overshooting the government role?

LAZEAR: Yes, well, again, I would say that all of the things that we have in mind take into account exactly the concerns that you are mentioning, that we also are very worried about having the government participate in any industry, certainly in the financial industry, because it's so important to the rest of American business.

And the concerns that you have about how government might exercise its authority going into the future are things that we are taking into account, right now, as we plan.

There are steps -- you know, I don't want to be too specific -- there are steps that one can take to minimize the likelihood of any of those things happening.

But there's no denying that, no matter what you do, future Congresses can always undo anything that you do. And that's a danger.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

LAZEAR: You know, we're aware of it, and we will do our best to make sure that any steps that we take protect not only the American taxpayer, but protect the American industry and the American business system from being taken over by government. That's certainly not what we have in mind, and it won't happen.

CAVUTO: All right. We'll see. Now, you might include the 401(k) owner right there.

But, Ed, thank you very much. Good seeing you again.

LAZEAR: Thank you. Thank you.

CAVUTO: Ed Lazear. All right.


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