Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Stock Market and Economic Policy

 

October 20, 1987

 

The President. I have a statement I'd like to read here. I guess you all know now that the market closed up 102.27 points and 604 million shares traded. I've just finished a meeting with my economic advisers, and we thoroughly reviewed the developments of the financial markets of the last few days and the actions we've taken thus far and our options for additional measures.

 

We've been in constant contact with financial leaders of both countries, with the exchanges around the world, and with market participants. While I remain concerned, I'm pleased that the steps taken by the Federal Reserve have had a salutary effect on the markets: Interest rates are down across the spectrum. I'm also pleased with the actions by two major banks today to lower their prime interest rates. I believe that there remains room in the markets for a further decline in interest rates, and specifically I'm pleased that the bond market is strong and the foreign exchange markets are stable.

 

Yesterday Secretary Baker and his German counterpart reaffirmed our agreement with the Germans to coordinate our economic policies to provide for noninflationary growth and stable exchange rates. Finance Minister Miyazawa issued a similar statement reaffirming Japan's intent to cooperate with other industrial economies and follow economic policies that will provide for a sustained growth in the Japanese economy. And in a phone conversation with Prime Minister-designate Takeshita this morning, he stated that his top priority was to maintain stable economic relations with the United States. The United States remains committed to the Louvre Agreement, and today I signed the preliminary sequester order under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law.

 

However, I think it is preferable, if possible, that the executive and legislative branches reach agreement on a budget deficit reduction package. Accordingly, I am directing that discussions be undertaken with the bipartisan leadership of the Congress for that purpose. The economic fundamentals in this country remain sound, and our citizens should not panic. And I have great confidence in the future.

 

Q. Mr. President, how about --  -- 

 

Q. Are you willing to compromise on taxes, sir? Are you willing to compromise on taxes?

 

The President. I presented in my budget a program that provided for $22 billion in additional revenue, which was not necessarily taxes. And I am willing to look at whatever proposal they might have.

 

Q. Mr. President, someone described as a senior market -- or economic analyst in the administration said the market might have been so weakened by this crash that there could be a recession as early as next spring.

 

The President. It's pretty hard for anyone to speculate on that. I would like to point out, however, that the only way that could happen would be if the people of this country ignored the economic signs. And then if you had people begin putting off purchases of automobiles, refrigerators, things of that kind because they feared hard times, yes, that could bring on a recession. But there is nothing in what has happened here that should result in a recession. We have a higher percentage of the eligible work force at work than ever in the history of our country.

 

Q. Let's see if I could do it. Can you hear me?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Can you hear me?

 

The President. Yes.

 

Q. Okay. Are you willing to personally -- personally -- sit down with the Democrats at an economic summit?

 

The President. I don't know whether that's necessary or whether we would do it with some of our people, but certainly I'm willing to be a participant in anything that can bring us together. Let me point out -- you mentioned the Democrats -- for virtually a half a century or more they have controlled both Houses of the Congress, and for more than a half a century there has been, with only two single-year exceptions, a budget deficit.

 

Q. You never submitted a balanced budget.

 

The President. No, because I said from the beginning that -- having predicted for 30 years that the deficit would get out of control as it did -- that there was no way you could balance the budget now in 1 year, but we could set ourselves on a course that would result in that. And the end result was that I have never gotten a budget that I asked for, even though the law says I must submit it to the Congress. And the Congress is responsible for the deficit.

 

Q. Mr. President, is the market going to keep going down?

 

Q. The Democrats say you have concrete around your feet on taxes. Concrete --  -- 

 

The President. If you heard that, it must have been the helicopter.

 

Q. Is the market going to keep going down? Will the market keep going down?

 

The President. It just closed [up] 102.27.

 

Note: The President spoke at 5:02 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House following a meeting with his economic advisers. He then went to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where Mrs. Reagan was recovering from cancer surgery.