President Bush says the U.S. economy will rebound from the September 11th terrorist attacks and a series of corporate scandals. He hosted an economic conference Tuesday in Texas, while America's central bankers were meeting in Washington.
The president has embarked on an all-out campaign to reassure the American public about the economy. At the economic summit he said the fundamentals of the economy are strong but much more needs to be done. "The only purpose of a strong foundation is to build on it. And that is what we're discussing today," he said.
The more than 240 participants in the conference included investors, small business owners, educators, and corporate executives. No one criticized the administration's policies outright. But concerns were raised about a wide range of issues especially the scandals that have rocked corporate America.
On Wednesday, major corporations will file papers with federal regulators showing that their financial reports are free of fraud. The president said it is time for corporate America to earn back the public trust. "This is a topic that is a vital topic for the country," he said. "How do we make sure people can trust what they see, can believe what they hear, can understand that they are being told the truth when it comes to numbers?"
During the president's economic conference, Larry Johnston the head of the Albertson's supermarket chain said corporate executives must take action to restore public confidence in the business sector. "Now is not the time to hide. It's the time to be out front," said Mr. Johnston. "It's the time to put criminals in jail, to invest in the economy, and to stay visible and certify our financials statements. That is exactly what I am going to do."
The corporate reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission are sure to be the focus of attention Wednesday on Wall Street.
On Tuesday, investors were not only watching the president's conference, they were also following a gathering of America's central bankers.
Stocks plummeted after members of the Federal Reserve board announced that short term interest rates would not be changed. In their statement, they said they might cut rates in the future if necessary to boost the economy. The mention of possible economic weakness hit the New York stock market just hours before the closing bell. Stock prices closed sharply lower down just over 200 points (206.43).