President Reagan and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker yesterday both denied that the nation could be headed toward an economic depression.
The president, responding to reporter's questions as he left Los Angeles for a brief vacation at his ranch, said "I don't think there's a danger of depression." Reagan had been asked whether he would consider a proposal by House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) to convene a summit meeting to avert a possible economic collapse.
Volcker, in the meantime, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that while the current recession has some abnormal traits there were a number of other factors, such as a more active government role in the economy, that reduced the chances of a 1930s level depression. Chances of a depression, he told the committee. are "small, very small."
The Fed chairman, who has been under attack for the high interest rates the nation is experiencing, said "we are turning the corner on inflation" and that as soon as the financial markets recognized that fact interest rates "will have no place to go but down." He said there was "no question that inflation is being brought under control."
Volcker warned Congress, however, to go beyond the budget cutting recommended by the Reagan administration to help trim future deficits.
David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, in the meantime, told a Chamber of Commerce brakfast meeting that the large federal deficits were the price that had to be paid for the rapid declines in inflation. Acknowledging that large deficits were fundamentally bad policy, Stockman said the good news was that the "inflationary disease is being purged from our economy."
Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told the Senate Budget Committee that he remained optimistic about the economy although "at the moment, there is a limited amount of favorable economic news."