Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Stock Market Decline and the Federal Deficit

 

October 20, 1987

 

Q. Mr. President, the Democrats say that it's your economic policies that caused that downturn on Wall Street yesterday.

 

The President. Yes, it's funny, Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News], that I couldn't understand at the beginning that creating 14 million new jobs, eliminating inflation -- or virtually eliminating it, bringing it down -- lowering interest rates, increasing the prosperity of the people -- I just wouldn't understand that that could hurt the stock market.

 

Q. What word will you have for investors today, Mr. President?

 

The President. Well, we're in constant consultations. It think everyone has been caught by surprise in this. And it is true that at this point of the day the market is in a far better situation than it was yesterday at this time, with about the same number of sales of stock -- trading of stock. But I'm very pleased and gratified with the action that has been taken so far by the Federal Reserve Board and the fact that two of the major banks have lowered their interest rates.

 

Q. Are you having meetings here today with your economic advisers -- [Treasury] Secretary Baker?

 

The President. I can't speak to that, Bill, right now. I do know that we've been in continuous consultations, and many times they come up without advance scheduling.

 

Q. Mr. President, some on Wall Street say they want some leadership from the White House. They want some action on the budget deficit. They want to calm the fears about the Persian Gulf. What do you have to say to them? Is there going to be any action by this administration, or are you set to just let the market run its course at this point?

 

The President. Well, as I told you, we are consulting continuously -- and have been since this started -- with others in our own administration, but also outside forces. With regard to the deficit -- then why don't they fix the blame, as I have tried to, where it belongs: on the Legislature, which has gone on now for more than 50 years defending deficit spending.

 

Q. When's the news conference?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. When's the news conference?

 

The President. I thought you'd know. I don't know. I know that it's soon. [Laughter]

 

Note: The exchange began at 11:35 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House, prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India.