A panel of President Barack Obama's economic advisers stepped into the public view on Wednesday at a White House meeting to discuss energy issues and job creation. And for the most part, they expressed optimism that the worst of economic crisis appears to be over.
Obama announced the creation of the 16-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, in February, but its work had been entirely behind-the-scenes.
Read and listen to what some of the members of the board told CNBC.
Robert Wolf, Chairman & CEO of UBS Group Americas
“The government’s program really starting to work,” said Wolf. “The Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the FDIC has really brought stability and liquidity in the market place.”
He said although he doesn’t expect a recovery until the end of the year, “we now have some nice foundation to start one.”
Jeff Immelt, Chairman & CEO of General Electric
There are a number of indicators showing signs of stabilization in the economy, said Immelt. “The demand for commercial lending in small businesses has grown dramatically. It was almost non-existent in the first quarter, but has grown in the second quarter. I see that as a generally positive sign.”
Immelt also said it is important for the United States to lead in the energy sector.
“You need a broad-based energy policy, and we need to be leading in green-energy and green-jobs.” He supported the cap-and-trade approach to energy, saying it’s the “most effective way to create a market.” Click here for more on the Immelt interview
John Doerr, Partner of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers
“I like to compare green energy to the Internet,” said Doerr. “In 15 years, the Internet grew from nothing to a trillion-dollar economy with 1.2 billion users. For the energy economy, it’s much larger—it’s a 6 trillion dollar economy and 4 billion people use energy every day around the world, [so] it could be the largest economic opportunity of this century.”
Doerr emphasized the importance of government role and said the cooperation between government and private capital is “what we have to have happen to innovate energy around the world.”
Penny Pritzker, Founder & CEO, Pritzker Realty Group
Pritzker said there’s some positive news in the housing industry. However, the travel and leisure sector is still suffering.
“[The travel and leisure sector is] something that really needs to stabilize and hasn’t done so yet,” she said. “I don’t see a bottom at all in the travel and leisure sector.”
Pritzker said she supports the credit card overhaul bill, saying credit card companies are looking to have a sound business model.
“[Companies are] not looking to take advantage of folks and so people will have a greater clarity about where they stand as a consumer, which is very good for the economy,” she said.
Austan Goolsbee, Staff Director and Chief Economist of the Advisory Board
“Sometimes there’s agreement [between the advisors] and sometimes there’s not,” he said. “Today, the main focus is going to be on energy, jobs and job creation. And I think there’s surprising common ground at least among the people who have been talking about the subject.”