CNBC has interviewed quite a number of Business Roundtable-member CEOs this week, and Wednesday's talk with Alcoa's Klaus Kleinfeld and Duke Energy's Jim Rogers provided good perspective on the sluggish U.S. economy and the need for policymakers to make competitiveness a priority. (Video)
Maria Bartiromo talked to the two CEOs at the Clinton Global Initiative gathering in New York City. She inquired about the state of the economy:
Rogers: I think the economy has stalled out. We need to be honest about this and try to deal with it as it is. Some are predicting that the growth in GDP for the first half of next year will be 1% or less, and so while it might not technically be another recession, it clearly feels like a recession, and we see it with our customers. The demand for electricity is usually an early indicator of growth in the economy, and we see the demand not growing.
Bartiromo: What will it take to get demand moving again…?
Rogers: I think there are a couple things. First and foremost, you've heard this a lot: We need confidence. I think American business needs confidence. They need clarity in terms of what the policies that will be. We have a dysfunctional Congress, and that in and of itself creates its own impediment to people making investments and thinking clearly about the way forward.
Kleinfeld: I’ve always said that confidence is the area the economy needs to grow, and that’s exactly right. I think it puts a lot on the shoulders of leaders, in companies and in politics. I think what we need most is to have a real debate here in the U.S. about future competitiveness. in a way, we have so many tactical debates that are currently going on. As an immigrant [who] chose to come here, right?, You particularly feel that we're missing out on the big discussion that we need to have: How can we get more competitive?
Business Roundtable releases its next CEO Economic Outlook survey soon [Update: Next Thursday, Sept. 29], and early indications are that the CEOs share Rogers' views that the economy is indeed slowing. The June outlook was generally optimistic, but economic indicators since then have trended down.
The interview also touched on metal prices, energy policy, innovation, and the lengthy obstacles foreigners face when trying to get a tourist visa to the United States. That last issue has really gotten some legs in the last several months. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 9, "Lengthy Visa Waits Deter Travel to the U.S.")
More CNBC interviews with BRT-member CEOS (and thank you for the videos!):
Commissioner Mary Jo White -- US SEC not writing political spending rule http://t.co/p4oIgVWFMq Activist goal? Chill speech.
Tribute to Paul Otellini, retiring from @Intel after 39-year career, including as CEO. Congratulations. http://t.co/mFbYqg5Ds9
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