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CEOs Sound Off on the Economy, Energy Prices & More

On Squawk Box this morning, CEOs from various industries aired their insights on the economy, energy prices, real estate and politics.

Pulte Homes CEO on Housing

“The second quarter was more difficult than the first. Best thing I can say that the rate of price decline for new housing appeared to moderate some. Hopefully we’re getting close to the bottom, but I’m not quite sure we’re there yet… We need the existing home market to correct before we get a bottom.”

- Richard Dugas, CEO of Pulte Homes

Ford CEO on Going Electric

“Clearly going forward electrification is going to be a big part of the transportation system in the United States and around the world. And we have a lot of work going on with the big utilities, the power companies, to really understand how do we integrate the Ford vehicles and automobiles into the transportation grid. Another thing we’ve asked the U.S. government to consider is to really make an investment not only in the infrastructure but also in the enabling technology of batteries.”

- Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford

Dow Chemical CEO on Oil Prices

“It’s going to be triple digit, and we believe it’s going to stay there unless the economy globally really tanks, and we haven’t seen any sign of that…So we’re all readjusting to triple digit oil prices…and frankly maybe that’s a good thing that we all have to pay more for this precious, precious resource and all get more efficient.”

- Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical

Airlines & Fuel Costs

“The biggest challenge is, if you go back to January crude oil was $90 a barrel, and then for it to shoot up in less than six months time to $145 a barrel, that kind of shock to the system is just impossible to react to that quickly. What we’re trying to do is make gradual changes to our fare structure, so that we keep our customers, we’re able to keep our airplanes flying, serve the communities that need air service, keep jobs for our employees and have people adjust over time, but in months time there’s no way you can adjust to a 50 percent increase in fuel costs.”

- Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines
(Contd.)

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Pharma & Politics

“I think we’re always at risk of being affected by the outcome of any election. I think we feel confident that we have a great story to tell, and we’ll be working with both parties, regardless of the outcome, to make sure that we tell that story. This is an extraordinary time of opportunity for the biomedical industry; the insights that we have today into the science hold great promise for future breakthroughs. We need to make sure we have policies that are commensurate with that.”

- John Lechleiter, CEO of Eli Lilly

AutoNation CEO on Vehicle Sales

“Obviously we’re dealing with a cyclical downturn in new vehicle sales, with the sales for the industry probably falling below 14 million units this year, and so to come out of it stronger, still solidly in the black, is our goal, but to really grow we’ll have to wait until the cycle turns.”

- Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation

Luxury Real Estate’s Road Ahead

“The thing that I found very interesting about our luxury survey is that 48 percent of the respondents own a second home, and 85 percent are very bullish about the value of their property going up in the next five years.”

- Jim Gillespie, Coldwell Banker Real Estate CEO

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