President Bush said Thursday he wants to see interest rates lowered to help both the U.S. and the world economy.
Bush, meeting in the Oval Office with former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, said, "We want to see these interest rates down a little bit, and I think that would be good for the world economy, including our own."Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady attended the talks with the former Japanese leader, who was in Washington to attend a State Department meeting with former finance ministers of the G-7, the world's seven largest industrialized democracies.
Bush's remark, with the television cameras rolling, was clearly a nudge at the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates further to pull the country out of its first recession in seven years. The Fed's discount rate - what it charges banks and other financial institutions for short-term loans - is now 6 percent, its lowest since 1988.
The prime rate - the one banks charge their most cred-it-worthy customers - is 9 percent. The gross national product declined 1.6 percent in the final quarter of 1990.
Bush's comment came two days after Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee that the economy was "still moving lower" but not as fast as previously.
The Fed has been torn between trying to revive the economy with lower interest rates and keeping inflation in check. Greenspan, asked if interest rates might come down, replied, "Our options are open."