Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Economy

October 26, 1982

Q. No questions. [Laughter]

The President. I only came over because the grass is wet.

Q. I understand you want to tell us something about the CPI [Consumer Price Index]?

The President. Yes. I know that you've heard the news already, that the rate of increase in inflation for September is in, and I no longer can say that inflation for 1982 so far is 5.1 [percent]. It is only 4.8. And by curious coincidence, 4.8 -- the last time we had that inflation rate was the last time that there was a Republican administration here. It was 4.8 when President Ford left office, and we're back to that inflation rate. As I say, the rate of increase in the last couple of months even would suggest that it's going to be a lower rate as the year progresses.

Q. You're taking credit for it?

The President. What?

Q. You're taking credit for it?

The President. Well, I feel this: that since all of you seem to feel that I'm to blame for unemployment, then somebody must be responsible for the inflation drop.

Q. What about the plunge on Wall Street, Mr. President? What about the plunge on Wall Street yesterday?

The President. Well, on Sunday, one of your networks, at least, had two of the most eminent economists from Wall Street on the air. Both of them said unequivocally this was a bull market, the beginning of a bull market, which, as you know, means increase. They even suggested that they could foresee the Dow Jones getting to 1,200. But they said they were predicting that within the next couple of weeks there would be a leveling and some drops and some ups and downs, because that was always typical of the beginning of a bull market. And, actually, the percentages bear this out, because in the last 10 weeks the market has gone up 260 points, and in the last 2 days the drop has only been the fraction under 42 points. So, it is still an up market with this drop.

Q. You're not worried, then?

The President. What?

Q. You're not worried at all?

The President. Well, no. I believe that we are going to see this period of ups and downs, as has been predicted. But I believe that the rate of increase -- it's gone up over 33 percent, and it's only dropped 4 of those percentage points, so it's still up 29 percent.

Q. Before he takes you off, [The reporter was referring to the fact that Marine One was ready to depart from the South Lawn.] what about [Donald] Hodel? Is he going to be the Energy Secretary?

The President. No decisions have yet been made on that. We'll announce them when we're ready to announce.

Q. The announcement on the most-favored-nation trading status, will you announce that before the day is over?

The President. I don't think we have -- I don't think that that's in any of our plans for today.

Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. It comes to you in the next couple of days.

The President. It's going to come to me in the next couple of days.

Q. What do you think of the Catholic bishops' letter on the nuclear freeze?

The President. Well, I understand that that was a leak from some staff members there of only a first draft and that it is not a final letter signed off by the bishops.

Mr. Speakes. Thank you.

The President. That's it?

Q. We have many more questions. [Laughter]

Q. How are you going to do next Tuesday?

The President. [Laughing] And I've got a lot more answers.

Q. I gather this gives you the leading edge, at least the CPI figures. I gather you feel that the CPI figures that came out today give you the leading edge over the Democrats now.

The President. I thought we'd had a leading edge ever since we brought interest rates down and inflation down and all those other things.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 10:48 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House as the President was waiting to board Marine One for his trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Raleigh, N.C.