For more insight on the US economy, we talk to Phillip L. Swagel, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the US Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009.
1. There's a report that the US economy shrank one percent in the second quarter, beating analysts' expectations of a 1.5 percent drop. It is a significant improvement over the first quarter's 6.4 percent decline. How could the improvement be so significant in just three months?
2. Will that improvement support the rising optimism being expressed by many, including former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, that the US economy will enter positive territory as soon as in the third quarter? Do you think that talk of stabilization and recovery is sensible, or still premature?
3. One of the biggest concerns of the US government is the country's massive debt. Although new debt is shrinking, the total amount has remained at a record level. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said tax increases cannot be ruled out. How would such hard choices be made?
4. Concerning the massive US deficit, many are worried that the US dollar may plunge in value. Some even say the biggest bubble now is the US currency. Do you agree? Do you think the US government will be able to control the size of the budget deficit and safeguard the role of the US dollar?
5. You were Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department, advising former Secretary Paulson. What sorts of policy recommendations do you think current Secretary Timothy Geithner needs to hear?
(CCTV August 5, 2009))