Bartiromo Upbeat about Free Enterprise on 'Tonight Show'

      The perception of the American economy – that is, the dark cloud cast by the media – has been difficult to overcome, even so much that it has infected pop culture.

     CNBC’s “Closing Bell” host Maria Bartiromo crossed the picket line of the striking writers to appear on NBC’s January 9 “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” She faced a barrage of questions from host Leno – who was asking the same hand-wringing questions as the mainstream media on economic issues.

     Bartiromo wasn’t as gloomy on the biggest media issue – the possibility of a recession. She explained that trade abroad will offset things plaguing the economy – the price of oil, housing woes and trade deficits.

     “It is bad [a trade deficit],” Bartiromo said. “But, you know, right now we are looking at a real weak situation in the U.S. It may not be recessionary, it may – we could be on the cusp. But, it’s very important that the economies around the world grow and that there are open markets so that our companies can actually get a piece of that action – 1.3 billon people in China, we need that market.”

     Leno asked Bartiromo if she thought the government should be involved in a bailout for people who got in over their heads with mortgages – a notion supported by some radical liberal groups that have appeared in media reports.

     “I don't think so,” Bartiromo said. “All of a sudden, here we are in this euphoric situation where the price of a home went up for no reason. Take any market – look at Phoenix, right? Phoenix, at one point over the last two years saw the biggest price rise on the average home – up 40 percent. Was there anything that happened in Phoenix that was fundamentally changed or different that caused the price of a home to go up so much? No, it was just this idea that we have to get it now - we got to buy, buy, buy, which bid up prices.”

     Bartiromo emphasized that borrowers need to own up to personal responsibility.

     “I think people, you know – they bought homes and they didn't have the wherewithal to do it,” Bartiromo said. “And, I do think that there should be accountability … for everybody.”

     Bartiromo also warned against so-called “fair trade” policies, like those proposed by Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on January 9 in a CNN interview.

     “[W]e also, I think, have to be very careful not to become protectionists,” Bartiromo said. “Because I do think if we start being isolationist and ‘America, you know, is the most important country’ – unfortunately, it's just not the case. There are other nations and the world is getting richer – and that’s actually a good thing.”

     Bartiromo has been consistent with her outlook on the economy. On November 12, she told NBC’s “Today” she didn’t foresee a recession.

     “You know Meredith, I do not,” Bartiromo said. “My gut feeling tells me that we have strength around the world. Economies like China and India and Europe continue to grow and that certainly helps American companies that have operations there. I think that that growth will probably offset the weakness that we’re seeing in housing and of course this pressure from oil.”