Remarks by Telephone to the Annual Convention of the United States League of Savings Institutions

October 30, 1984

The President. Greetings to all of you. And greetings to you, Chairman Paul Prior; greetings to your president, my good friend, Bill O'Connell, and to John Zellars, who'll become your chairman tomorrow.

You in our savings and loan industry, who do so much to help American families buy homes and cars, serve as pillars of your communities, and you certainly can all be very proud. And on behalf of the American people, I thank and commend you.

You know, just 4 years ago, we saw our nation staggered by a steady erosion of economic growth, punishing inflation and interest rates, a record peacetime tax burden, and rising unemployment. Retirement savings were devastated. In 1979 and '80 working Americans' weekly earnings declined in real terms by 8.8 percent. That was the worst drop since World War II. I know how hard your own savings and loan industry was hit with the housing market falling into disarray.

If I could inject a little news note -- or maybe you've already heard -- today the Commerce Department has announced the figures for the month of September in the sales of new, single-family homes. They increased in September by 21.9 percent over August. [Applause]

Mr. Prior. Did you hear that, Mr. President?

The President. I did. Thank you.

In 1980 the American people voted for a change, and when we took office, we made restoring our economy number one. Experts warned it would take 10 years to bring inflation down to the level of the 1960's. Well, we did it in just 2 years. It wasn't easy. And industries like your own faced hard times as we put a stop to economic chaos and laid the groundwork for a vigorous recovery. But today we've cut inflation by nearly two-thirds, all the way from 12.4 to 4.2 percent.

Interest rates have fallen by more than one-third. That's still not enough. A few months ago I went out on a limb with a prediction that we'd see interest rates drop again before the end of the warm weather. Well, we've had a beautiful Indian summer. And last Friday, the temperature here in town hit 75 degrees and the prime fell to 12 percent.

I don't want to make any more weather forecasts; but I do believe the financial markets are beginning to understand the depth of our commitment to the fight against inflation. This means interest rates should drop still further in the days ahead. And all those interest-rate sensitive activities like homebuilding and car buying will pick up and gather new strength.

From strength in autos and construction to renewed leadership in high technology, from a rebirth in productivity and surging investment to the creation of 6 million new jobs, America is in the midst of the best economic expansion in over 30 years. And your support has helped to make this possible. And I know that with your continued support during the next 4 years, we'll keep surging ahead.

Thank you for letting me join you in this way, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 10:53 a.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. The convention was held in Washington, DC.