March 17th, 2009
10:26 PM ET

Summers not as bullish as Bernanke

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Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

The President's chief economic adviser is not quite as bullish about a turnaround as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who's predicting the recession may be over by the end of 2009.

Asked about Bernanke's prediction, Summers said he was upbeat about some aspects of the economy - such as a 22 percent spike in housing starts and recent upticks in the stock market - but said he was cautious about making any grand pronouncements.

Summers told CNN that while he's confident of a turnaround, "just what day the turn will come isn't something that i would dare to forecast" at this point.

"Something that the President has made clear to us is his approach and the approach he wants us to take is a recognition that we don't panic when there's a bad number, bad day on the markets, and we don't become euphoric when there's a good day in the markets, or a good number," Summers said in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Asked specifically about Bernanke's prediction on CBS' "60 Minutes" about the recession ending this year and 2010 potentially being a year of recovery, Summers demurred.

"We always are at pains to recognize when we talk to the President that economic forecasting is the most imperfect of sciences," said Summers. "Many people would say it wasn't a science at all. We stress the uncertainties in this situation."

But Summers said there is a "natural dynamic" to the business cycle. "And much more importantly the President's program, the economic recovery program, with reinvestment, substantial investment in our country, the tax cuts for middle class families, the measures to support the housing market and bring down the cost people have to pay for mortgages and prevent foreclosures” will have impact.

Filed under: Economy • Ed Henry • Road to Rescue
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Economic forecasting is an imperfect science?--and so is the science of life--when you find the cause--you can find the cure-but then there is no known cure for "greed."

    March 18, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Maybe not Mr. Summers, but you appear still to want to pay out unrealistically, morally at least millions( billions) in bonuses to people to those who can afford not to have them.
    It is simply put an itch/ iritation they can scratch and still be well off.
    Screw thier contracts or the whole economic recovery plan and future needed bank support fails.
    Enough please!!

    March 18, 2009 at 4:04 am |
  3. Connie

    I just heard a complaint today from a small businessman that the Obama tax increase on businesses is "killing" his new business. Has the tax increase even gone into effect yet? Or are some people just simplicitly blaming everything that's wrong on Obama's tax policies?

    March 18, 2009 at 1:51 am |
  4. Don, WA

    I guess the "Big Wigs" screwed up and "Joe America" is the one who pays. Put "Joe" in charge. And say what you will about "Joe" – a small town hick, uneducated, whatever...but "Joe" don't screw people. It is so frustrating that the Big Wigs have turned the middle word of business (bu-"sin"-ess) into "sin". Why does Joe always have to pay and then clean up the mess? I realize you can't have "too many chiefs", but now we need too many janitors to clean up this mess. We all have different ambitions and desires – but let's get organized enough as a people to put chiefs in charge that understand that and understand human dignity and that it's not all about themselves and their cash flow. I feel like a student trying to explain how it all works to the teachers. Is it so hard? Does the greed driven animal lead the humanistic-being until the bottom falls out and then has to be fixed by the human? How inexplicably silly is all of this? My advice...to the human-beings...watch the animals constantly and speak up if you're in that position. There were plenty of oppurtunities for "people" to have stopped this before it came to this. "Survival of the fittest" – who do we (as "thinkers", WANT to be fittest)? We have that choice and free will. This whole thing is evolution in progress – Go Humanity! And so far at least – Go Obama! (But let's watch him too.)

    March 18, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  5. Wardell katrina survivor

    I think the president has done some drastic things to try an turn around a grand MESS,he should be given credit, only time will tell if they work, the market was over valued, so said Mr. Greenspan, now people look to see the same results,and thats not suppose to happen, if investors and the american people are realistic about, our near future. It's time to turn back the clock, bring down prices,the day of GREED, should be over, but they aren't, so we're in for a rough ride. Everybody wants to be the next Bill Gates, richest man or woman. Mr. Summers is not as bullish as Mr. Bernanke, maybe because he made a lot of his money from the same sources as AIG, managers,I think he should be replaced.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Peter Ajoku

    America is outraged at AIG for their actions. AIG has stolen our christmas presents and oh boy! we will not let them get away with it. Thanks to president obama for his efforts to retrieve our rightful belongings from does crooks. This whole mess is presidents bush's fault due to lack of oversite. it is as if obama has to pay for every single mistakes bush has made

    March 17, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    I thought Bernanke was going on a limb with his prediction on 60 minutes – wondered in fact what crystal ball he was using. However, other economists are saying the same thing so maybe he is right, but I'm like Summers – I'm not about to say when I think this misery will be over (not that I know enough to know). My crystal ball goes pretty hazy on this point.

    March 17, 2009 at 11:10 pm |

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