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US Treasury Secretary Optimistic About Future Economic Growth - 2001-11-16

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says he expects the U.S. economy to grow considerably faster than recent forecasts for next year. Mr. O'Neill is preparing to attend a meeting of world finance ministers this weekend in Ottawa, Canada.

Treasury Secretary O'Neill suggests the latest International Monetary Fund forecast of less than one-percent growth for the U.S. economy in 2002 is much too low.

Most economists believe the U.S. economy has entered a recession with growth likely to be negative during the final six-months of this year.

Mr. O'Neill admits the economy is weak, but says a stimulus of tax cuts and emergency government spending will drive growth to exceed the IMF forecast.

"It is our judgement that a stimulus package is not only useful, but necessary," Mr. O'Neill said. "That it will hasten the return to a period of higher real growth that is in the interests of the United States, the people of the United States and the people around the world."

Mr. O'Neill says it is important for the United States to be a leader in a world economic recovery.

"One of the things that are on our mind now as we go to meetings like these in Ottawa is the important role the United States plays in the world economy. We are so large and important in the scheme of things that it is highly important that we operate at a higher level of real growth than we have," he said.

Congress is debating a mix of spending and tax cuts to be contained in the $100 billion stimulus plan supported by Secretary O'Neill.