Glenn Beck: Neil Cavuto on the economy


Neil Cavuto of the Fox Business Network

GLENN: Putting the radio back into Radio City, this is the third most listened to show in all of America. Hello, you sick twisted freak. Welcome to the program. My name is Glenn Beck. I'm glad that you're here today. My staff is out drinking today. Apparently I find out this morning that it's a company holiday. For some strange unknown reason, unbeknownst to Stu and Dan and Adam and I, my own company has decided that we don't take off President's Day; we take off St. Patrick's Day and I don't even know why that is. Well, I do know why it is. My company's run by drunks. That's why. But let's go to Neil Cavuto, not speaking of drunks. Well, I don't know. I shouldn't say that about you, Neil.

CAVUTO: You know, that's power to actually call your bosses and refer to them as drunks.

GLENN: They are.

CAVUTO: That's sort of like, no one can touch you.

GLENN: They are drunks. I mean, I'm a drunk, Neil. I just happen to be sober right now.

CAVUTO: How are you doing?

GLENN: I'm doing -- well, how are you doing?

CAVUTO: It's a crazy day, man.

GLENN: So Neil, I know I got you on because you're like the -- you are like the happy -- you know, you're the guy who's like, no, really I think everything's going to be okay. You make everybody feel better.

CAVUTO: I think this the scheme of things the alternative is as well.

GLENN: Yes.

CAVUTO: So on that premise, Glenn.

GLENN: Yes, you are the guy who has a great bedside manner, you know? You tell the patient, oh, you're going to be dead in 10 minutes, but let's watch cartoons for 10 minutes.

CAVUTO: Nice, nice.

GLENN: Yeah. So last I talked to you, you were much more optimistic than I am. However I'm just reading, especially this stuff coming out not in American papers but over in England. Good heavens. They're just thinking, they're thinking this is some of the worst stuff that could possibly happen with what the Fed is doing, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, there seems to be a real bracing for what could be a catastrophic collapse. Right or wrong?

CAVUTO: Well, the reason for that, as you know, what always causes these type of things, if indeed they happen and slow bear market slides do have these sort of big events oftentimes that's a huge hit, a crash, as I say. In '87 the market had been flowing precipitously before, of course, we had the October '87 debacle. So there is some truth to that. But a lot of this, Glenn, could be avoided if we don't see from the panic view. I think what the Fed is trying to do in the meantime, if it means a big brokerage firm is in trouble, arrange the financing to either buy it out and calm investors down, cut interest rates or buy some of the risky debt that a lot of these banks have. It has really tried everything in its arsenal but if people and institutions aren't willing to lend and customers are unwilling or unable to borrow, it's sort of like a Catch-22. It doesn't change the environment. And a lot of this becomes sort of like postponing the inevitable. I think when I mentioned to you last time we talked is that if you were in a recession then, I would argue with you then as I would now, but I hasten to add then as I will now, that's not a big deal. You know, recessions happen. Slowdowns happen. What makes this potentially an even bigger deal is if we compound the error by tripling or quadrupling with government to correct the error. That makes the situation worse. What comes to mind is Richard Nixon with wage and price control. That made a shallow recession a severe one. What comes to mind is Jimmy Carter, you know, trying to get the government involved to ward off inflationary threats. That made a bad recession an even worse one. And then something called stagflation develops. So what I worry about is what the Government does in response by panicking and trying to throw everything in its arsenal. It can make a situation much worse.

GLENN: Well, let me just read this. First of all, you and I are in complete agreement because me personally, I mean, you know, you've got to -- I'm not a fan of socialism. I'm not a fan of nationalizing things. You know, if things get bad, let the bad separate itself by collapsing. However I'm kind of in a situation now where, okay, that seems like if we would have let -- you know, you had the whole, the Fed coming in to the rescue, what was it, twice last week, and it didn't really work. It didn't last. You know, it could have been a massive collapse but then again if you come in and you bail all this stuff out, what does that look like at the end of the day?

CAVUTO: Well, see, that's just it. And sometimes there is -- it's very tough to tell people that the Government is not going to be there because it is a very slippery slope, Glenn, when you start bailing out one institution and there might be others down the hook and then you are starting to bail out people who made serious mistakes with their mortgages and then you start bailing out them and you bail out, as we had a hearing last week on Capitol Hill for people who were under on their credit cards. I don't --

GLENN: I mean, you know, Neil, you know this is where we're headed.

CAVUTO: Was, this is where we're headed. That's what I'm worried about. I think the normal economic cycles we go through, and I've been looking at markets long enough to know and that's why I kind of had a, I don't know if -- a view that just says, look, markets go up, markets go down. It was one of Ronald Reagan's more brilliant comments after the '87 stock market crash. In other words, his view was it's not up to the government to regulate or correct those markets but to let them do their thing. As cruel and as unnerving as that thing can be. So that's why when I look at the markets, I tend to have sort of a bigger picture view of them and don't get caught up in the headlines of the moment, and I do know that in most cases and over most periods of time and certainly over longer periods of time the rich are rewarded in the markets. Having said all of that, I do worry now that this socialized push -- by the way, on the part of both Democrats and Republicans -- is unnerving because now we assume the government has to take a role and a big role at that to bail sick institutions out and I don't know if that's such a good idea.

GLENN: No, I think it's a bad idea. I mean, Neil, you are a student of history probably much more than I am. For the love of Pete, that what caused the Great Depression to go away the rest of the world and last with us for 10 years. It was World War II that pulled us out, not the New Deal. That's what pulled us out of the Great Depression, World War II, building ships.

CAVUTO: Well, I don't know if it's going to require that but I hope it doesn't.

GLENN: No, no, I'm not saying that. I'm saying when the government got involved in the New Deal and they started saying how much you could pay for labor here and controlling absolutely everything and basically, you know, our first real foray into socialism, it's what caused the Great Depression to last that long. It's remembered now, as, oh, well, the government came in with a New Deal and they saved. It didn't. It's what destroyed business.

CAVUTO: After you deal with the immediate panic, and in other words, it does calm people down, the Government coming in right now and sort of dropping up Bear Stearns with the help of J.P. Morgan Chase. I mean, it does calm people down. It makes people think, all right, maybe we'll get past this. And then the longer term you realize, well, wait a minute, now, the government has some bad debt on its books; doesn't that mean we have this bad debt on our books, too? And then you start thinking that you set a precedent here, that when everything hits the fan, whether it's the Federal Reserve or the U.S. Government, someone is going to pick up the slack and someone is going to take care of it. And that in a way complicates capitalism going forward and makes it very difficult to do business when you always know if things get really bad, Uncle Sam will make them right. I worry about that precedent because once the government's involved, as we learned with the New Deal programs and all, it never leaves. It's sort of like, you know, after a couple of days, you know, you say, gee, it's great, a couple of days and I'd like them to go, but they are not going.

GLENN: I have to tell you, Neil, I think -- and I'm seeing this. You read stuff from overseas. You're starting to see people are, overseas, are beginning to now say that we are intentionally debasing our own dollar. Whether or not that's true or not. But I mean, I don't think it's a coincidence that we're taking this not necessarily a very slow slide right into socialism. I mean, I just find it very hard to believe. If a dope like me can figure this out and see this stuff coming, you can tell me that everybody else didn't see this coming.

CAVUTO: Well, apparently not enough of everybody else and I think that -- you know, when people say, well, there's going to be hell to pay for all of this, and I always have said, well, markets do overshoot themselves. They overshoot themselves on the up side with the Internet and you can argue with housing, and they overshoot themselves on the down side as I definitely think is happening now. But the equilibrium returns when value returns and the perception is the value isn't there yet.

GLENN: Neil, what should the average person do?

CAVUTO: Well, you know, without sounding cliche, Glenn, you and I talked about this. It really does depend on your time perspective. If you need money right away, the markets aren't a place for you. But if you've got a five or ten year, whether you are saving eventually for your kids' college or your own retirement and you are a ways from that at this point, then the markets, you know, recognize time and gyrations in that time, will stabilize.

GLENN: You don't think this is the bottom of the market, do you?

CAVUTO: I'm not smart enough to say. I will say this. I think that the panic has overstated the reality. The fear that all money is bad, all lending is chilled, all books are in question. We did this right after the Enron scandal.

GLENN: Yeah, I know we did.

CAVUTO: And Tyco where we said that, we, I can't remember. There was a Business Week story at the time, Glenn, that said there were going to be a ton more companies just like Tyco and Enron showing corporate crookery, were the words that were used, was rampant where we had, you know, nine or ten cases of so-called corporate crookery. Last time I checked there were 9,000 or 10,000 listed companies. Now, my point then is not to dismiss the sins of the nine or ten but to recognize that the 9,000 or 10,000 weren't involved in this type.

GLENN: See, here's the problem, though, Neil. If you have the federal government -- I mean, your idea is -- and not your idea. I know you disagree with it but, you know, the idea that the federal government, the Fed comes in and rescues everybody. They are running out of levers. They are running out of things to do.

CAVUTO: That's right.

GLENN: And when they are down -- because this last one isn't going to last very long. You know, we had a spike of 500 points and then we had Bear Stearns the very next day.

CAVUTO: Right.

GLENN: You have a couple of other big shoes to drop, the Fed will be out of levers to push and then the panic would really set in. Then people would really say, well, there's nothing left to do. And then it doesn't matter. All reason goes right out the window.

CAVUTO: Well, I agree with that. I agree that you could make a bad situation worse. But again without sounding cruel to your listeners, what I am saying is let that process happen. Let the Fed just step aside and let these companies go under.

GLENN: They are not going to do it.

CAVUTO: Let it happen. It is a very tough adjustment period but what you're saying is you are picking those people, institutions you think are worth helping out and those that are not and that is a dangerous precedent because I just heard Chuck Schumer on one of the channels saying that we must do more to help these institutions and the people they lend to. So I'm thinking in my head, man, oh, man, this is getting to be super pricey. And the argument has always been, well, the money we spend now will offset the money we could lose later. I'm not so sure of that.

GLENN: Neil Cavuto from the Fox Business Network on, what is it, 359 on DirecTV? Do you even know? You don't even watch it, do you?

CAVUTO: Yes, 359, you are right. Once again you are being condescending.

GLENN: Neil, it is always a pleasure, sir.

CAVUTO: Same here.

GLENN: Of course, you are not as optimistic as I was hoping.

CAVUTO: Well, I'm not, actually I am. I think that I step back from this sort of stuff and you've been through some big issues yourself. I think people need to be reminded that I covered the '87 crash, I covered --

GLENN: Come on, are you really saying this is the '87 or '89? Are you really still there that this is going to be as painful as that? Come on. You heard Alan Greenspan saying this is the biggest event since World War II.

CAVUTO: Well, even if it is, my point is we go on. I'm optimistic enough to know a little bit about history that we go on and we move on and markets are punctuated by these events. But I think I bored you before, Glenn, with this story that in my office I keep a chart of the Dow Jones going back over the last century and that chart, I've got to tell you, Glenn, goes up. It goes World War I, World War II, it goes up through the Depression. It's punctuated by assassinations of Presidents and energy crises and the likes and when you are in that period, it's extremely painful. But when you have the benefit of stepping back, it is long term remarkable and we come up and get through it. So that's why I say I'm up for this strictly because I look at history and I know we've been through worse and we'll get through this.

GLENN: All right, Neil Cavuto, always a pressure, sir.

CAVUTO: Same here, Glenn.

GLENN: Talk to you again.

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