April 27 - The U.S. economy is resilient, but can do better International Paper Chairman and CEO John Faraci says after GDP report shows 2.2 pct gain. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL The U.S. economic growth engine cooled a bit at the start of the year as business spending fell for the first time since the end of 2009. Overall Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, grew 2.2 percent from January to March, according to the Commerce Department's advanced reading. That was slower than the 2.5 percent growth predicted by Wall Street and down from the 3 percent expansion seen in the final quarter of 2011. A drop in government defense spending, also partly offset the strongest pace of consumer spending since the fourth quarter of 2010. The view from the corner office: things could still be better, says John Faraci, chairman and CEO, of International Paper. SOUNDBITE: JOHN FARACI, CHAIRMAN / CEO, INTERNATIONAL PAPER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The U.S. economy is 70 percent consumer spending driven and there are two things, I think, that are holding back consumer spending. One of them is probably taking care of itself and that's what's going on in the stock market. And the other thing is housing and until the housing market stabilizes and starts to come back and there are some signs that it is doing just that albeit slowly, I think that consumers are going to be hesitant even with mortgage rates at record lows to purchase houses." Housing was a positive with home construction enjoying its biggest jump in nearly two years. And automobile purchases saw their strongest gain in four years. SOUNDBITE: JOHN FARACI, CHAIRMAN / CEO, INTERNATIONAL PAPER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've got Europe. We've got increasing long-term debt here. We've got some of the uncertainty in Washington that exists. We've got a housing market that is still operating at just about half its - what its - the pent up demand should reflect in terms of housing starts. All those issues and we still have economic growth. I think it bodes well for the U.S. economy going forward. We got to solve some of our long-term problems around entitlements and tax policy. If we don't solve those we won't get back on a growth path". And economists say it's the threat of persistently slow job creation, which presents the greatest short-term risk to the U.S. economy. Conway Gittens, Reuters