WASHINGTON -- President Bush yesterday said he is "bullish" about the U.S. economy and sees evidence that a recovery from recession is under way.
The President made the upbeat comments during a teleconference to members of the American Advertising Federation.
"If I can borrow a term from Wall Street, I am bullish on the economy," Mr. Bush said. "Not overly optimistic, not Pollyannic about it. But while some sectors are still sluggish, on the whole, a turnaround in the economy appears to be in the making."
Mr. Bush, who is briefed regularly on the economy by Michael Boskin, chaiman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said a number of recent indicators point to recovery.
He cited the Labor Department's unemployment report that was released last Friday and showed that businesses added 59,000 nonfarm jobs to payrolls in May, the first increase in 11 months. Mr. Bush noted that over half the industries surveyed added to their payrolls during the month, the first time that has happened in a year.
Mr. Bush also pointed to increases in industrial production and the index of leading economic indicators. Industrial output edged up 0.1% in April, and analysts expect a much healthier gain to be reported for May when the Federal Reserve reports the statistics on Friday. The index of leading indicators has increased three months in a row.
"So I think there is reason to be optimistic," the President said. "This recession has lasted perhaps longer than we would have thought. It hasn't been as deep as many have predicted. Let's see where we go. I think things are looking much more promising."
Separately, the Commerce Department reported that, in the first quarter, the United States recorded a current accounts surplus of $10.2 billion. It was the first surplus since the second quarter of 1982 and was due largely to payments by U.S. allies for Operation Desert Storm and reduced imports of automobiles and other merchandise.
Still, the figures showed that, at least temporarily, the United States was not dependent on foreign capital to finance the trade deficit. The current account is the broadest measure of U.S. trade performance and shows balances in goods and services as well as investment income.
Desert Storm cash contributions totaled $222.7 billion, officials said. As a result, net unilateral transfers totaled $16.9 billion following U.S. payment aborad of $9.28 billion in the fourth quarter.
Net private purchases of U.S. Treasury securities from foreigners were $3.9 billion, up from $2 billion in the fourth quarter. But foreign central banks slashed their purchases of Treasury securities, apparently to make their payments for the war effort.