Jon Corzine: Well, I think there’s no avoiding that the major issue that is going to impact everyone’s life in America is the economy. Have to get that stabilized. We have to get it out of freefall into a position where it begins to recover.
And so, all decisions, I think in the short run, have to be focused on trying to get our economy going so that our people, our citizens can restore their confidence in the direction of the country.
He [President Obama] can never walk away from our responsibilities in the international arena. We have two wars, 160,000 troops in harm’s way, as we sit here at this moment in time, so he can’t take his eye off of our international responsibilities. And, in fact, it links back to our economy, because if we were able to thoughtfully and carefully bring some of our troops home and have a lessened investment in some of the things that we’re doing in our overseas operations, it will help our economy at home. So I think he has to give that great effort.
And then I think the overall issue with regard to our energy independence and protecting the globe from the buildup of carbon, all of those issues come together.
Jon Corzine: I think we have to get focused on the real economy, on the basic elements of housing markets, financing markets in general so that credit begins to flow.
First thing, I probably be doing is ask the President [Barack Obama] to make sure that we change our bankruptcy laws so that there could be renegotiation of mortgages between the lender and borrower in an organized and some straightforward way.
Second thing, I’d be pushing to make sure that we were finding the way to put money into keeping people in their homes, either direct loans to the individual so they continue to make payments or a restructuring of the loans themselves.
The fact is, we won’t stabilize the wholesale financing markets. The toxic products that have been created on leverage, CDOs, the kinds of things that people have talked about in the mortgage-backed security market that are causing banks so much problem; unless we actually stabilize the underlying housing market and the mortgage market that is a part of that.
Jon Corzine: First thing you have to do anytime you have a tough situation is talk openly and frequently with the audience that is going to be the receiver of the changes that you have to take or make to address the problem. You need to make sure that you’re fully in communication about what the nature of the problem is, and what it is that you believe you need to be doing, and that needs to be very clear. And you need to be repeating that over and over again, as far and broadly as you can, so that people understand what is impacting their lives.
I think, actually, communication is a lot of it, but also not avoiding the problem, you just have to go at it. And the tougher it gets, the more you have to be direct at addressing the problem, because if you don’t, there’s a cumulative momentum to the sort of negative patterns that develop, whether it’s in business or whether it’s in government and economics.
Recorded: November 13, 2008