When the Business Council, an organization of the nation's corporate elite, gathers here at the Homestead, the occasion is as much a social event as a business meeting. Discussions of financial and political developments often take a back seat to golf and tennis.
So it was not particularly surprising that the only unhappiness that publicly surfaced when the council met last week revolved around the cool temperatures and rainy skies that dampened the tennis courts and greens.
Add to the inevitable conviviality that marks these meetings the recent moves by the Federal Reserve Board that appear to be overwhelmingly popular with the business community, and the result is a happy group tycoons.
Asked about the mood of the meeting and why it did not reflect a broad public skepticism, if not pessimism, about the state of the economy, several participants had simple responses.
"These meetings inherently tend not to be gloomy," said Irving Kristol, a social commentator and publisher of The Public Interest, and a speaker at the meeting.
Reginald H. Jones, chairman of General Electric Co., called the public "cynical, but not gloomy," and said that there was a "decided seriousness" about the meeting. He further cited rising levels of consumer spending as evidence that the public is not particularly unhappy about the nation's economic prospects.
Perhaps the council's enthusiasm about the nation's economic prospects would have been different if the Fed had not raised interest rates and tightened the money supply earlier in the week, moves that Walter B. Wriston, the chairman of Citicorp, labeled the "most fundamental charge in the management of the American economy that I've seen in 30 years."
Irving S. Shapiro, chairman of E. I. Dupont de Nemours & co., joined other executives in also pointing out that business would have short-term problems as a result of slow bill-paying by some customers, a problem Shapiro attributed to tight budgets. "The sooner we suffer the pain, the sooner we'll be through," Shapiro said.
But it is hard for anyone to think of the economic hardships that face the unemployed, for example, during a fall visit to the Homestead, which last week was encircled by the rich colors of autumn leaves. It is even harder when tee-off time, or in the case of rain, tea-time, is minutes away.