President Obama's chief of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Summers, told a Washington audience Thursday that he foresees an end within the next few months of the economy's "free fall" that he said began last October or November.
Summers spoke to a business audience hosted by private equity investor David Rubinstein. Responding to a question, Summers described the economy's slowdown as analogous to a ball falling off a table.
"I think we can be reasonably confident that it is going to end within the next few months. And that you'll no longer have that sense of free fall. How strong, how rapid the turn will be, that's a less clear question," he said.
Midway through the presentation, protesters came on stage castigating Summers personally and his role in the government's bailout of the banks. They displayed a banner that read we want our money back.
"We the people say no? $5.2 million this man made working one day a week in 2008, working for a hedge fund.No, No, No, ?Can we have our money back please," they said.
The protesters remained on stage for several minutes before being escorted away. It was recently revealed that Summers, a former Treasury secretary and president of Harvard University, earned several million dollars last year from an investment group. Neither Summers nor Rubinstein addressed the issues raised by the demonstrators.
In his remarks, Summers said the U.S. economy probably faces equal threats from deflation and eventual inflation. He said that while the recession is clearly very deep, there are promising signs that a bottom may have been reached. The U.S. economy entered recession in December 2007.