TEXT OF INTERVIEW
STEVE CHIOTAKIS: We talk about recession this and recession that. Today, we found out when the U.S. recession actually ended — in June of 2009. The National Bureau of Economic Research says that makes the economic downturn, which began in December of ’07, the longest recession the nation’s endured since World War II.
That recession may have caused some long-term economic problems. A report out today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — the OECD — cut its growth forecast for the U.S. economy. And laid out some suggestions to get American deficits down and the economy back on track. Angel Gurria is secretary general of the OECD. He’s with us from New York. Good morning, sir.
ANGEL GURRIA: Good morning. How do you do?
CHIOTAKIS: Good morning, doing well. According to the OECD, what is the state of the U.S. economy?
GURRIA: Well it’s recovering with a bit of a slowdown in the third and fourth quarter as we see it. But it is recovering. We will not have any double dips. But we have to take a medium- and long-term look at some of the measures we have to take in order to keep it moving and to keep it growing.
CHIOTAKIS: I want to talk a little bit about some of those measures. There are some unpopular recommendations in this report, including the Value Added Tax and eliminating over time the mortgage interest deduction. Those two items are going to be very difficult to do. How do you recommend the government do those things?
GURRIA: Well the Value Added Tax, in particular, is something we have been looking at for really a long, long time. And what we were looking at were ways in which United States can — if not balance its books — go back to a situation where the deficit is manageable and where the debt, as in relation to the GDP, stops growing and ideally starts going down.
CHIOTAKIS: Give us a brief primer, just a few lines about what exactly is a Value Added Tax?
GURRIA: It is a more efficient, a more equitable in the temp time, it can be graduated better. It has proven to be also a better distribution of the burden we believe that consumption and taxing, perhaps, carbon emissions are better ways at going about raising taxes than taxing income.
CHIOTAKIS: But pretty unpopular ideas all around I can imagine?
GURRIA: It’s a question of making the consequences transparent, of going one way or another. And also, in the end, this is about helping the government to have the necessary resources in order to help the neediest.
CHIOTAKIS: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time.
GURRIA: Thank you very much.
CHIOTAKIS: Angel Gurria, secretary general of the OECD.
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