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Is it time for the U.S. to borrow big?

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Jeremy Hobson: Juli Niemann is an analyst with Smith Moore & Company.

She’s with us live as always from St. Louis. Good morning, Juli.

Juli Niemann: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: Well Spain’s treasury minister said today that country is starting to lose access to international credit markets, which is a pretty significant sign that the crisis there is getting worse. What are you expecting from this phone meeting today?

Niemann: Well there was a big gulp in New York this morning, and I think Tim Geithner probably said something like, ‘will somebody please do something, we are watching a slow motion train wreck.’ First you’ve got to calm the markets — the stock market and the credit markets.

The credit markets — they’re fearing a bank panic in Europe. Spain and Portugal are already headed all the way down. It looks like a replay of the 2008 panic. Stocks — Club Med stocks have already fallen about 50 percent. That’s spreading to the rest of Europe. Japan is at a 28-year low. We are in 10 percent correction; it’s not a bear market, but it’s definitely a correction. Economic activity worldwide is slowing, so that’s what they’re talking about.

Hobson: Well Juli, there’s been a new call — most recently from President Obama’s former top economist, Larry Summers — for more stimulus. Do you think that that’s possible and will it help?

Niemann: He’s got an innovative approach to it and his thought is: interest rates are near zero right now, this is time for governments to borrow to the hilt and for corporations because you are never going to get lower interest rates; put it to work on projects that will make companies and countries grow. In the U.S. that would be rebuilding our seaports, bridges, highways, and airports. No pork barrel projects like Alaska bridges to nowhere, no new post offices in a swamp. What you’re really doing is putting it together with very productive ends. Do we have the fundamental will to do it though?

Hobson: Juli Niemann, analyst with Smith Moore & Company, thanks as always.

Niemann: You bet.

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