John Snow - Excerpt from Press Club Speech


I don’t know any time in modern economic history that I’m aware of where we’ve had so many shocks to the system… so many blows… so many body blows absorbed in so compact and short a period of time.  Beginning.. starting in March 2000 with the beginning of the bursting of the bubble.. that took 7 TRILLION dollars that bursting of the bubble…7 TRILLION dollars out of the economy of the United States. 7 TRILLION!  7 TRILLION is an awful lot of wealth.  It’s the size of the economy to put it in perspective, of Spain and Italy and France and the UK. 


That’s the amount of wealth that came out of this economy.  And then we had the recession.  The president of course inherited an economy in pretty steep decline.  I knew it was in decline when he took office.  I knew it because being a transportation executive, transportation being a leading indicator; I could see the decline in our carloads, container loads, barge loads, logistics, warehousing activities, truckloads. 


  In the summer of 2000, I remember being invited to Austin and being asked by some of the President’s Advisors to offer some comments at this gathering - and I said to him - and this was President-elect in January of 2001 - Mr. President, you are inheriting a recession.  Well of course, the National Bureau of Economic Research documented that fact just a couple of months later.

So we had the collapse of the equity markets - huge effects.  I think we are still having some after effects from that.  We had the recession.  Then we had 9-11.  9-11 didn’t just hurt the economy of New York, it hurt the economy of this country.  It affected many industries.  I was out in Ohio last week talking to a Congressman who said, “You know, 9-11 had a dramatically adverse affect on my district because we have airline industry suppliers in this district and their orders just fell through - fell out completely.  And then of course the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.  And so on.

And perhaps in some ways, as devastating as anything else, those wretched corporate scandals which breached trust with the American people on the part of our corporate leaders and our accounting industry leaders.  Boards of Directors were shown not to be as faithful to their duties as they should have been.  CEO’s and CFO’s were shown not to be as faithful as they should be to their responsibility to shareholders.  The accounting profession, the legal profession came up wanting.  And then we had Sarbanes-Oxley and this effort to repair the damage of those wretched corporate scandals.  All of that has hit the American economy. 


And when I meet with business leaders from other parts of the world, when I meet with counterparts, finance leaders, central bankers, invariably, they get around to one question: 

 How could it be that American economy has weathered all these storms the way it has and continued even in the face of these extraordinary headwinds to continue to move to job creation, higher levels of growth and now of course, leading the recovery in the world economy?