Excerpts from the Press Conference
THE PRESIDENT: There is only one piece of bad news today that I know of. It will have to be corrected and I am taking immediate steps. I found this morning that I had put on seven pounds and have to take drastic measures to get it off. However, that will not be referred to London.
Q. What is the total weight?
THE PRESIDENT: About 181 pounds, I am sorry to say. That is bad; I have to get it down to 174 pounds.
Q. How are you going to get it down?
THE PRESIDENT: Eat less.
Q. How about swimming?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes; I will take off some, swimming; but, mostly, by plain not-eating-so-much.
I don't think there is any particular news. I have been trying to catch up yesterday and today. I have just been reading and listening to various things and of course on the international thing, I think Mac (Marvin H. Mcintyre, Assistant Secretary to the President) told you last night that we have been in pretty close touch with London during the past week, wiring back and forth. I talked with Secretary Hull this morning on the phone and, of course, on those things any news has got to break from London—so there we are.
Q. What about these reports that you are putting forth new proposals?
THE PRESIDENT: Anything at all has to come out of London.
Q. Will it come today, do you think, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know.
Q. Are you sending any new instructions to London, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I simply cannot talk about it. Off the record, it is easy to write a story and say, "new instructions." It is not true. There have never been any instructions. We have talked the thing over by cable and telephone, but there have never been any instructions.
Q. You said off the record last night that you hoped that the conference would continue?
THE PRESIDENT: Still hope this morning.
Q. Cannot you say something that would put you on record?
THE PRESIDENT: That is all I can say. That is about all there is. All I can say is that I hope the conference will continue.
Q. The European Nations don't think they can talk tariffs unless stabilization is taken care of first. What do you think about that?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know that this is the time to go into it. It is a long, long story. It comes back to the definition of the word. Suppose we talk about this off the record so it won't be attributed in any way to official sources but just from your own information.
The whole question comes down to the word "stabilization." We have a very different thought about the definition of the word than do some of the Continental countries. In those countries, they are very much concerned with the current rate of exchange on their own currency in terms of other currencies. To them that is important. To us it is not so important. We are looking, fundamentally, for a different form of stabilization, a stabilization that will be based on a more or less equivalent price level in each country for X amount of goods. I hope that eventually each country in the world will have a currency which will be stable within its own domestic purchasing power.
If you arrive at that objective in the world, then almost automatically the exchange value of all currencies in terms of other currencies will become more or less stable. Then there is the other side of the picture. As I said, some of those countries are very much concerned with a temporary exchange value of their currencies in terms of other currencies. They therefore seek to have us enter into something which is not really on the agenda at all—an agreement between five or six Nations out of the sixty-six present to set up some kind of special fund temporarily to control the exchange fluctuation. Our primary objection to that method, if we are asked to participate in that fund, is that we would be morally obligated, in case that fund called for large withdrawals of gold from this country, to let down the bars on the export of gold that we have in this country. Well, we are not willing to do that at the present time.
We have seen, for example, that England has been off the so-called gold standard for a year and ten months, and they are not ready to stabilize yet. We have seen France go off the gold standard a few years ago and stay off for nearly four years. We have only been off for three months. We haven't had time to turn around. Exactly like England, we don't know what to do next. . . .
Now, that is the easiest way of explaining it. We are not ready to export gold. We are not ready at this time to make any kind of agreement by which we would morally obligate ourselves to export gold; and we are not ready to go along on the creation of some kind of stabilization fund which might obligate us to export gold. Now that, really, is the whole thing in a nutshell. . . .
Q. Do you think it possible to enter into any reciprocal treaties at the present time?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope so.
Q. Won't they work against your domestic policy here?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q. Would the stability of the dollar in relation to commodities require additional shifts in the gold content of the dollar?
THE PRESIDENT: Not of necessity. There you come down to another—all this is perfectly terrible because it is all pure theory, when you come down to it. The view of some of the European Nations is that gold in the future should be used not as a collateral behind currency at all, but that it should be used purely as a medium of international exchange to pay debits and credits between countries in international trade. I think our view is just the reverse of that; and that is that gold and silver should continue to be used as collateral behind paper currencies. Among the instructions to our delegates, when they first went over there, was a clause expressing our point of view that gold should perhaps exist in the future only in the form of bullion; and that that bullion should be Government-owned, and kept within the Nation as permanent collateral behind national currency, and not constantly shifted to and fro on steamships. . . .
Q. If the London conference shows definite signs of going on the rocks as a result of this stabilization, would that change the Administration's attitude?
THE PRESIDENT: Don't put it that way. We don't think it is going on the rocks.
Q. Give us a reason.
THE PRESIDENT: Just personally hopeful. . . .
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208298