Bush picks good day to go to Wall Street

KAI RYSSDAL: After his hellos and thanks and how are you's . . . the president launched right into his bill of economic particulars this morning.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Retail sales are up, consumer spending is strong, exports of goods and services have jumped by nearly 35 percent.

He was at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan . . . right across the street from the Big Board. So the president gave a nod to his audience.

PRESIDENT BUSH: The Dow Jones has set new records 26 times in the last 4 months.

And then he went big picture.

PRESIDENT BUSH: When people across the world look at America's economy, what they see is low inflation, low unemployment and the fastest growth of any major industrialized nation.

About that growth. . . The White House can read a calendar as well as anyone. And they've got economists who work there too. So it's a fair bet the president's schedulers knew today's report on Gross Domestic Product might be pretty good. As it was.

The economy grew at a rate of 3.5 percent October through New Year's. Despite a housing market still on the wane and carmakers losing billions.

CHRIS LOW: The biggest shift was in consumer spending. Consumers in the fourth quarter pulled out their wallets and spent more than they had in almost a year.

Chris Low's the chief economist at FTN Financial. We asked him about GDP . . . and about the Federal Reserve's announcement today.

LOW: The Fed, of course, did not change interest rates. But they continue to warn that they think the inflation risk looking ahead is real, and for that reason they maintain that they may have to raise interest rates in order to fight it.

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