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Wells Fargo Boss Talks Bank Fees, Economy, Taxes

In an interview with The Associated Press, Stumpf, 59, talked about why he's fighting the government's lawsuit, why he's less than enthusiastic on the economy and when it's OK to ditch the suit and tie.

Questions and answers have been condensed and edited for clarity and length.

â¿¿ What's your prediction for the economy? Could we move into a reasonably strong economy in the next couple of years just naturally, because we've been in a downturn for so long?

I don't know that I subscribe to that. It takes more planning and more leadership. We've got $16 trillion of federal debt, we have deficits as far as the eye can see, 10,000 people retire every day in this country and are getting (extremely low interest rates) on their savings. Left to its own, it will look very much like what it's looked like so far.

â¿¿ So what do we do?

There's still too much uncertainty â¿¿ tax policy, health care, entitlements, a whole bunch of other things. I would like to see the public sector and private sector get on the same page. Take something like housing. We have states that are passing new laws around housing that sometimes are in conflict with the national standards. What will happen to the mortgage interest deduction? We don't know these things. And when it's uncertain, the private sector feels it in a big way. We just published our quarterly Gallup/Wells Fargo small business survey, and we saw more pessimism than we've seen (in years), because what happens in Washington affects Main Street.

â¿¿ Washington is fighting over tax policy and government spending. Should taxes go up for the wealthiest people?

I'll speak as an individual. Whatever is asked of me as a taxpayer, I'm willing to do. I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, so I'm all about growing our way out of this situation.

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