The newly elested chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers yesterday predicted the nation's economic growth rate would slow to 2 percent next year but would not dip into a recession.
Herbert E. Markley, in a luncheon meeting with reporters, forecast a "pretty good" first half in 1979 and a less vigorous and less predictable second half. He cautioned, however, that this scenario could easily worsen if the White House tries to squeeze inflation out of the economy in a hurry.
In This, Markley seemed to echo recent statements by Federal Reserve chairman G. William Miller and administration officials that it will take at least several years to ease inflationary pressures that have built up over the past two decades.
Commenting on a wide range of business issues, Markley also:
Urged the White House and Congress not to adopt any new government programs next year. "I think we could use a kind of quieting period next year," he said.
Indicated his 158,000-member association would push for smaller minimum wage and social security increases next year and for new tax incentives to spur capital investment.
Stressed the need for newer factories and greater research and development spending by private industry to make up for a decline in America's technological leadership.
Predicted the 96th Congress will be more sympathetic to the business community, reflecting what Markley called "the new mood" of the country which, he said, is anti-government spending and more appreciative of business.
On inflation, Markley pledged the support of the manufacturers' association for President Carter's wage-price guidelines but warned the White House to "deal with problems that come up on an even hand."
As for the real wage insurance scheme, which is a key part of the Carter program and was included as an incentive for labor to stay within the 7 percent wage guideline, Markley said he did not know enough about how the scheme would work in order to support it.
He was much less ambiguous in his opinion on recent reports that the White House was considering asking consumers to boycott compliance with the administration's price standards.
"That is so reprehensible, I can't imagine a government in this country talking that way," he remarked.
Carter, in his press conference yesterday, said he did not favor fostering consumer boycotts as a way of enforcing his anti-inflation program.