Bush, for first time, cites threat of recession But downturn would be short-lived, he says

November 16, 1990|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- President Bush conceded for the first time last night that the country might face a recession, but he said his economic advisers did not believe a long and severe one was in the offing.

In an interview broadcast on the Cable News Network, Mr. Bush said, "Most seem to feel that if we have a recession, it will not be deep and that we'll come out of it relatively soon, six months at most, and I'd like to think that is true."

Most economists are saying the economy, if not in a recession now, is on the verge of one.

Mr. Bush seemed determined to present an optimistic view.

"I'd like to be a little reassuring on this economy," he said. "I am concerned about the slowdown. I worry about anybody that wants a job and doesn't have one. But I am not a gloom-and-doom person on where the American economy will be before long. And yet I don't want to mislead you, because I am concerned that we're in a downturn here."

The CNN interview came after Bush heard a gloomy assessment of the economy yesterday morning from a group of business executives.

Mr. Bush apparently got a forthright appraisal of the economy from the executives, including North Carolina banker John G. Medlin Jr., who said in an interview that he had told Mr. Bush the economy seemed to be "tilting toward a modest downturn."

Compared with the other nine executives at the meeting, Mr. Medlin said, "I was probably on the optimistic side."

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