Andrew N. Liveris

CEO, Dow Chemical
We need the next President to start thinking about employing psychologists vs. economists. I would tell you the credit crisis, the financial crisis, that became almost tsunami-like in September; now that it's spilled over into the real economy, we have a crisis of confidence at the consumer end. I think people have anxieties, and are fearful, and I think arresting that fear and turning the tide will need some interventions and pretty quick address. I would tell you that the length of this recession both in the U.S. and beyond on the globe will be determined by how quickly the next President acts, and let's call it "put in place an FDR effect." I mean, get in place as fast as possible the transition teams, work with the Treasury Secretary and the outgoing Administration, and really start to frame economic stimuli that will create a sense of confidence in the American economy going forward.

Deficit and Stimulus

The deficits and how much we owe, as hard as it is for me to say this, almost have to be put to one side. I think we need to put some real money into the economy. Not only the fiscal tools such as cutting interest rates, but whether they be tax benefits and providing some checks to the American people, some help on mortgages, all the things that have to be done in ailing industries; for sure, the auto industry needs help. All these things are going to cost money, and they are going to cost money in the very short term. You know, I just came back in from China, and they are putting money into their economy through infrastructure spending, and spending on alternative energy. These sorts of programs both candidates have spoken about are putting money directly back into the economy now. Not waiting a year from now, but now.

And I think those sorts of interventions will not only impart new lifeblood into the economy but frankly create a sense of confidence that it's O.K. to borrow again, it's O.K. to spend again. Now, as you look at more medium- and long-term policies, you've got to get the words "efficient borrowing" and "efficient spending" in there. But for now we have to correct the downward slope that we're on. Because we're either going to make this a V-shaped recession, a U-shaped recession, or an L-shaped recession. An L-shaped recession, obviously I don't even need to speak about that. A U-shaped—if the bottom of that U is two years or more, we're going to get some real chronic hurt out there in terms of people who lose jobs, the American economy's competitiveness, and frankly the globe as a whole will suffer.

The Next Administration

Both campaigns, leading into the election and beyond the election, realize that the American economy needs to put in place some medium- and long-term fixes such as the ones I raised. I think it's the responsibility of CEOs, the responsibility of many industry sectors, such as the ones I've been talking about, to step up and be part of that solution space. To help our politicians—Administration, Congress—not approach things in a partisan way, but a bipartisan way, for America, really make them live up to their promise for why they got elected in the first place, which is to find solutions that matter for America. I believe we can't stay silent and stay on the sidelines and just beat the drum and say, "This is what you should do." We should come forward, really stick our necks out, and say, "This is what should happen, and in some of the cases frankly we'll have to give a little to get the right answers." An address to climate change is a great example. Every sector will have to give a little for the greater good, including my sector. And I think "For the Greater Good" needs to be the headline that we all operate under for the next couple of years to address this complex agenda that I just laid out.

Energy

I've been an active proponent of two policies that, if they are not put into place, then the American economy's competitiveness will continue to be hollowed out. One I believe is getting full address, and that's energy policy. Both candidates have now stepped forward and have articulated what their vision for energy policy is. We in the chemical industry and we at Dow Chemical are strong supporters of alternatives, and so whether it be green chemistry, biochemistry, or biofuels, wind, solar, all those tools that we have at our disposal are very necessary. However, a full energy policy needs to include all components. We've articulated the efficiency side of the equation, the increased production of fossil fuels, clean fossil fuels, a component that's nuclear, and on top of that all of the alternatives. And so that I believe is Job One, Two, and Three. Without an energy policy our industry will continue to build factories and invest in jobs overseas. Other countries are putting in place very, very sound energy policies that include all of those components.

Industrial Policy

The second thing that we've been pushing for, Dow in particular, is a readdress to industrial policy. You know America has become uncompetitive in industry. Industry is only 16% of this economy, although that 16% is over $1.5 trillion, and employs literally 10 million Americans in manufacturing. But we don't have sound tax policy. We have a very broken tort system. We have a poor health benefit pension system. We have, of course, the regulatory issues. Very bad regulations that over the years have become worse, and of course this whole thing on energy. Those five things, when you put them together, make American industry uncompetitive compared with the OECD countries like Germany and Japan—forget labor costs. So I believe an approach to the industrial sector needs to occur in this country. Industry generates R&D. Seventy percent of nongovernment R&D comes from industry.

Education

Industry employs young graduates from our industry and into high-paying jobs. And as you know, a lack of an address into chemistry, engineering, and science is hollowing that out as we speak to places like China and India and elsewhere, and we at Dow are noticing it. We are finding more talent overseas than in the U.S., which is a travesty to the American university system, which is still the best in the world.

So you put all those things together—that's a lot of fix that needs to occur. I believe working closely with industry, our industry, other industries, the next Administration needs to put these policies into place.

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