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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Dow Down 520 Points; Interview With Trace Adkins

Aired August 10, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Keeping America great. Tonight, what would it take to turn this around?

I'll talk to the people who know what's really going on, and what you should do to keep your money safe.

Plus, hope meets fear. Where is leadership? Is the president doing enough? His critics say no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are pleading for leadership. But their pleas are now falling on deaf ears.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to lower those taxes.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the president will win it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Why is Congress still on vacation?

Plus, a guy who has a lot to say about this economy and this country, Trace Adkins, country music superstar, TV personality and all-American guy.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Good evening.

It's been another bad night on Wall Street. The Dow closing 520 points, totally erasing all of yesterday's gains. The Asian markets are reacting, as I speak, to the plunge. Europe will follow in a few hours.

So, is market turmoil the new normal? And what can you do to keep your money safe?

Joining me now are people who know the answers.

CNN's Ali Velshi, Leigh Gallagher, "Fortune" magazine assistant managing editor, and personal finance expert, Carmen Wong Ulrich.

Ali, let me start with you. Ali, another crazy day on Wall Street. We've seen record falls, record rises and record falls again. Yet again I ask you, Ali, what the hell is going on?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Piers, every day, I get up very early. Every day I think maybe, Piers, can just run my answer from the night before. But, unfortunately, every day, it's a different reason.

You know, last week, it was Italy. Then, on Monday, it was the S&P downgrade. And then Tuesday, the market was actually up, so I did actually go to sleep early and then today, it's France of all things.

Look, these are catalysts. We're such a jittery market that any little thing sets it off. And today, it was news that France -- rumor actually that France might get its credit rating downgraded. France is a very big economy -- bigger than Italy's.

And that got nervous investors saying, I don't want to get caught holding the bag when something really bad happens. But irony is that in doing that, in getting out of the market to preserve your money, the bad thing is actually happening. There's just a lot of nervousness and momentum, selling out of stocks, moving into things that are safe. Gold, another record today, touching $1,800 an ounce and U.S. treasuries yielding the lowest they've yielded in decades.

The fact of the matter is, it is still what we call a flight to safety. People don't want risk. They want their money safe.

The global -- what did I tell you last week? It is the global equivalent of putting your money in your mattress.

MORGAN: Ali, when I was young, you know, if you want to be safe, you would put your money into banks.

VELSHI: Right.

MORGAN: But banks are ones taking a huge hit at the moment. Everyone has specter of Lehman Brothers hanging over them, you know?

VELSHI: Yes.

MORGAN: Can we see the possibility somewhere in Europe or America of banks going under of the scale of Lehman Brothers?

VELSHI: Well, in fact, one of the triggers today was one of Europe's largest banks, Societe Generale, losing 15 percent. Yesterday in the United States for an almost unrelated reason, you saw Bank of America losing double digits.

And today, we had the CEO of Bank of America come out and say, everybody relax. We're OK. This isn't 2008. This isn't Lehman Brothers. Then we had JPMorgan Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon coming out and saying everyone just needs to relax. You know when you saw when those things happen, you saw the market move up and down a little bit. But this market, look at that chart, that is one day's chart. Look at the volatility there.

People sell off. Then bargain hunters come in and buy, and then those who are worried about the market sell out. There's very little confidence in this market right now.

As for whether or not banks are likely to fail, it's hard to say. It's premature right now. What we don't have that we had in 2008 was a credit crisis where banks that were in trouble couldn't even borrow money from other banks.

We don't have that right now. We actually have a lot of money. Nobody wants to borrow it and use it. So, different situation, Piers.

MORGAN: Leigh Gallagher, let's talk politics here. Interestingly, in Britain where riots have been unfolding in the last four nights, all major politicians came back from their vacations. They were sort of demanded back by the public and the media.

I'm surprised, given the scale of the volatility on Wall Street following the apparent solving of this debt crisis, which no one knew was going to be a solution if you like, that none of these top politicians are coming back from their vacations here.

LEIGH GALLAGHER, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, FORTUNE: Well, that's a good point. You said apparent solving of the debt problem.

We're rioting here. We're rioting in the markets. I really think that this is not from the downgrade.

This started as Ali pointed out last Thursday, somewhat out of the blue, even though there was turmoil in Europe. I think what happened is the debt debate. Yes, we got a deal -- and believe it or not we expected last week a relief rally after they finally came to an agreement, not only did that never happen -- I mean, we know what's happened since.

But I think that signaled to investors, to Wall Street, to the general population, that we would sooner kind of throw our economy around like a hot potato than actually enact sensible policy that might help us get us out of this.

So, I think what we have going on is this -- you know, Wall Street is kind of catching up to what Main Street has known for a really long time. The economic news that's out there, the GDP growth slowing down, the jobs numbers, the productivity dropping, that's been out there for weeks now.

So, why suddenly this sharp turn last Thursday? You know, I think there's this -- suddenly, this realization in the wake of what happened in Washington here that we don't quite have any hands on the wheel.

MORGAN: Carmen Wong Ulrich -- I mean, gold, as Ali said, is reaching record levels. Is it still a sensible place to put some money right now or is it now too expensive?

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: When the lemmings start running towards that direction, what you want to do is run in the opposite direction. Right now, if I had a lot of gold, I would sell it. If it's going to move anywhere and it hit around $1,800 an ounce, it may go to $2,000. Well, it's too late. The bus has left the depot when it comes to buying gold and making a large profit off of it.

If you are really, really concerned about security, incredibly concerned, then you don't want to take that risk. That's just one entity, that's one thing to put your money in.

Treasuries are the only place you know your money is going to stay there and, of course, money market funds.

But, listen, you got to understand, if you're panicking right now, ask yourself -- are you a long-term investor or not? If you are a long term investor, then you need to stay and hold and just reassess where you are at, but not flee into one thing.

MORGAN: And, Ali Velshi, we saw today Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announcing this 12-member joint select committee to try to tackle the deficit.

Is there now massively high pressure on these dirty dozen as some are calling them to do a really spectacular piece of deal-making here? Because I think if there's any more procrastination by Washington that causes more volatility, they're going to get hammered.

VELSHI: Yes, we need a solution. We need a solution. And I'm a little concerned about the makeup of this committee. There are some people, particularly on the fiscal conservative side who have shown an unwillingness to be compromising on how it is we're going to solve this problem.

So, I'm a little concern. I'm worried that we've become familiar and somewhat comfortable in the United States with this idea that we wait until the last second and possibly beyond to solve this problem.

We don't have that time now. You know, I don't tend to ring a lot of alarm bills, Piers. You know that. I have to tell you, this is approaching crisis mode.

Leigh has said, this is not necessarily an American problem, but it may be up to us to solve it. Europe at this point has gotten much more serious structural problems than we have. We can actually solve this politically. And I think this is what has to be done.

I hope they get the same signals we have, but nothing has indicated that they do get the same signals that Main Street does. That this has got to be solved. There's got to be a compromise and it's got to be bigger than the one they agreed to the other day.

MORGAN: And, Leigh Gallagher, people talk of a double dip recession. I mean, there is a view that we never left recession and the economy has continued to slow down with a few little blips up here and there. What is your analysis of double dip stroke recession? Where are we, do you think?

GALLAGHER: Well, double dips are actually very, very rare. We've had three of them in the past 160 years. It doesn't mean we won't have one this time.

But, you know, if you look at the definition of a double-dip, it's -- recession, it's two quarters of declining GDP growth. We're not there yet. We could get there. But then the other definition is whenever the NBER, which is the entity that decides we're in a recession, says we are. And that's more subjective.

So, whether or not we get there or not, is it going to look much different than it does today with declining -- you know, rising unemployment, declining growth, declining productivity, consumer confidence that is really in a sorry state? I mean, it might not look that much different once we get there.

VELSHI: Leigh, let me just say, though -- one thing that you said, Piers, is that some people think we never left this. You know, Recession in the old days affected everybody a lot more generally than this one did. This is an entirely bifurcated recession that we came out. There are people that never felt much of the 2008-2009 recession.

And right now, there are some people who have never since seen anything that looks like a recovery. So, we just could be milling around where everyone down here feels like it never got better and everybody up here doesn't understand what's wrong.

ULRICH: That's true. I mean, consumers -- listen, if you got unemployment at 9 percent, the recession never ended. That's the way it is to American consumers.

This did not stop. This did not end. So, to them, this is not a double dip. This is a worry and concern and it's going to get worse. What's worse than 9 percent unemployment?

Many folks haven't seen that in their lifetime. So, that's the big concern and that's the big panic.

MORGAN: Ali, Leigh, Carmen, thank you all very much.

VELSHI: All right.

ULRICH: Thank you.

MORGAN: When it comes to the economy, not a lot of people think that President Obama is getting it right. Joining me now is James Fallows, national correspondent for "The Atlantic."

James Fallows, you wrote a fascinating piece about President Carter and his administration basically, I think surmising that lack of passion in a president and the way he speaks to his people can be a real death nail. JAMES FALLOWS, THE ATLANTIC: It's true. I mean, there are a few similarities between the Carter administration and its constraints, and what is happening to President Obama now. There have certainly been very notable rhetoric moments for President Obama where passion has been the hallmark of what he's done.

And I think the problem we may be seeing now maybe a combination of a general predicament for modern leaders and a particular one for President Obama. The general predicament is dealing with this economic malaise affecting the entire world and something that's difficult the president can't just do with the snap of his fingers.

Moreover, for all the areas in which President Obama has been able very eloquently to talk to various parts of the American psyche, economics has not really been his natural or strong suit for reasons we can discuss. So, I think he is on weaker ground here personally than many other areas, but also structurally it's a difficult situation for him.

MORGAN: Well, it's interesting you should say that.

Let's play a clip from a speech he made following the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, for example. I'll talk to you after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple act of civility caused this tragedy, it did not. Rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You see, what was fascinating there to me was the -- you could see the passion in the rhetoric and it really connected with people. When I watched the president last week talking about the economy, he seemed utterly listless and passionless and it didn't inspire most people, open a (INAUDIBLE).

FALLOWS: Yes, when we hear that Tucson speech or clips before that, his famous 2004 convention speech in Boston or the race speech in early 2008 which really saved his candidacy, we see him talk about areas that he really has spent his entire life experience thinking about, reflecting upon and being able to reach different parts of the American populous with.

When it's a matter of how to create more jobs quickly and how to combine long-term issues with short-term need for stimulus, or things like that, I think that is both is eccentrically a little duller as a topic and also it's something that isn't as connected to what he is about and the ways we have seen him at his most effective. So, that may account for understated or passive affect that you describe. MORGAN: You wrote speeches for President Carter and then when you wrote that memorable article in 1979, you made your feelings pretty clear, I guess, about the way his lack of passion in the end resonated adversely on his presidency.

What advise -- if you were writing speeches right now for President Obama, what advice would you give him now to ramp up the rhetoric in an effective way?

FALLOWS: I think that it's worth recognizing first that this economic challenge is more than purely a rhetorical one. Even Ronald Reagan, great an orator as he was, in 1982, he was not able to really say that the recession was better than it was. But I think that if the president could kind ways to talk about economic challenges and strains on people and also economic hopes in a way that seemed somewhat less arm length from predicament of order people who haven't been in Harvard Law School and don't know (INAUDIBLE) investor bankers and all the rest, that I think is the challenge -- and finding ways to use simple story. Not the story as government as a family but some other story about why he can have hope measures we're taking now will have better returns next year and in our children's time.

MORGAN: Yes. We need the president to reconnect with his voters really, don't we?

FALLOWS: We do. And I think it's a matter that there's among his natural base, there's been a sense that he's not been fighting hard enough for them these last six months, especially when -- from their point of view and, frankly, from my point of view -- the real narrative is the emergency for America is lack of jobs, lack of demand, the possibility of a new recession, as opposed to the emergency being long-term debt issues, which are an issue but in my view not an emergency.

So, finding some ways to tell that story again and how the challenges of right now can lead to promise later on. That's what all political narratives do and he's certainly capable of doing that. And so, we'll se what we hear.

MORGAN: Well, we need some audacity and some hope, I think.

James Fallows, thank you very much.

FALLOWS: My pleasure, thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up: what's really behind this market turmoil. I'll ask a man who makes his living really watching those tea leaves to explain this if he can.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Another jubilant round of applause there for the New York Stock Exchange for another catastrophic day. I still can't get my head around that particular every night.

I'm joined now by Kai Ryssdal, as always, to put a perspective on this.

Kai, we hear all of the experts. We hear all the Washington speak, the economists and so on. Put this in layman's speak. Why is going on with these markets? Why are we seeing such wide fluctuations?

KAI RYSSDAL, AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA'S "MARKETPLACE": I think what they're seeing is a realization that the global economy is stuck, right? There are two things going on. One is the huge amount of debt that we have, that we've been talking about for years and the other thing is the no growth.

I mean, the global economy is slowing almost to a standstill. In the United States, the first part of this year, basically zero growth. When you don't have growth, you don't have jobs, you don't have expansion, you don't have rising incomes, you don't inflation, the good kind of inflation.

MORGAN: Where is this growth going to come from? This is the great unanswerable question right now.

RYSSDAL: Right. And so, let me answer it backwards and tell you why it's not happening. It's not happening because companies in the United States and around the world in fact have discovered a way to make money without spending money. They are getting more out of the workers they have.

Since they don't have to hire, since workers have higher productivity and number came out a couple days ago, since that's happening, they don't have to hire people. If they don't have to hire people, people don't get bigger paychecks. They don't get raises. They don't get paychecks at all and that's where it's going to be stuck.

MORGAN: I mean, Americans have a new way of thinking. Hang on, why should the American economy have this massive terrible day on Wall Street because of what happened in France? Who cares what happens in France?

RYSSDAL: Well, so let me tell you exactly what happened in France. In the early morning hours of the East Coast, our time, there was a rumor about a French Bank called Societe Generale. If you think back to 2007-2008, Societe Generale was the first bank that we knew of that was really going to be in trouble.

And so, today, people Soc Gen and went, oh, my goodness, we're in it all over again. Soc Gen down 15 percent. American banks got clobbered. Bank of America down 11 percent.

So, the reason it impacts here is because people say, hang on, if a bank is going to collapse in Europe and someone like France, it could happen here.

RYSSDAL: You say bad banks now and people go, it is 2008. Oh, my goodness, we're back in it.

MORGAN: And because of Lehman Brothers they know a big bank can fail. Nobody is too big to fail.

RYSSDAL: Well, now, we have to point out a couple of things, right? The banks are healthier now, OK? They have more money. They are well-capitalized. There are more regulations in place. Not as many as some say there should be.

They're doing fine. It's the rest of the economy that's not. And so, the rest of the economy looks at the banks and says, oh, my gosh, could they conceivably be in trouble? I got to sell.

MORGAN: How unnerved are you by what's going on? Because you got a very expert view of all this.

RYSSDAL: Unnerved isn't the right word. I'm uneasy. I mean, these are -- these are trying and difficult times. And I think if you look at some of the things that are happening, forgets the Dow for a minute and forget the downgrade.

Think about the structural issues in the European economy, right? You got this European Central Bank bailout plan. They're going to prop up Italy and Spain and Portugal and all those guys.

Here's the thing. You can prop up the bad debt as long as you want, right? These guys have bad loans all over the place. Even if you prop it up, it's still a bad debt and someone has to take the loss.

And what they have to figure out over there is who is going to take the loss.

MORGAN: Bad as the European situation is, how significant is it that China's economy also appears to be slightly slowing now?

RYSSDAL: Slightly slowing is in and of itself a relative phrase, right? I mean, Chinese economy goes from 10 percent to 9 percent, that's not great. But they've got huge domestic sociopolitical problems over there, if they slow too much.

So, what they want to engineer in China -- I mean, I was just there a month and a half ago -- they really want to engineer that soft landing. Get it to six. They'd be really happy at 6 percent.

MORGAN: Why?

RYSSDAL: Because that enables them to have growth. It enables them to get next billion people into the middle class, all the peasants out in the countryside. It lets them keep on competing but not overheating.

When you get an overheated economy, specifically in China, you get inflation. With inflation comes rising food prices and with rising food prices comes 100 million Chinese grandmothers upset about pork prices and that's a very bad thing.

MORGAN: Biggest problem facing President Obama is jobs.

RYSSDAL: Sure.

MORGAN: How is he going to get Americans back to work?

RYSSDAL: I've said this before. I said this the last time we were here. The American economy is a huge, intractable beast. There's a case to be made that the economy we have today in August of 2011 is the economy we're going to have in November of 2012.

The president needs to -- the only thing the president can do is nibble around the margins. Payroll tax cuts -- those kinds of things that he's already presented. And then hope that there's some kind of budget deal when the super committee comes out of Congress at Christmas.

MORGAN: As always, Kai, you put a great perspective on it. Thank you very much.

Kai Ryssdal there from American Public Media's "Marketplace" -- a voice of calm in the midst of this absolute chaos.

Coming next, Dave Ramsey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Dave Ramsey is the host of "The Dave Ramsey Show" and the author of the "Total Moneymaker," the man millions of Americans turn to for sound financial advice in turbulent times like this.

Dave, thanks for joining me again.

There's a big tendency when this kind of crisis unfolds for many Americans to say "I don't trust anybody here, I'm taking my cash out of the bank and putting it under my mattress and taking my money out of my 401(k)s."

Is this sensible or is that equally crazy?

DAVE RAMSEY, "THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW": Well, it's just emotional which makes it crazy, because it doesn't get you where you want to go. I mean, if you're dealing with a typical American and they've got money in the stock market and they are watching these crazy rides. We've had this roller coaster ride in the last while, it just scares the crap out of you. I mean, it really does. It does me with my 401(k).

But then I have to step back and say, well, you know the fear is based on the short-term. And the only way you should ever be invested in the stock market in good growth stock mutual funds like I recommended for 20 years is to have that long-term mentality. And that's the only thing that can keep you calm in the middle of this.

If you're day trading, you're having a heart attack right now.

MORGAN: Are there other things that Americans should look to invest in? I mean, for example, I've got friends who have made a killing in the wine market, in art and stuff like this. I mean, gold is obviously incredibly expensive right now, probably going to come down. So, that safe port is probably not there anymore. Banks aren't really trustworthy.

Should people look to diversify into, you know, certainly more random investments?

RAMSEY: Well, the collectibles category has never kept up with real estate or stock market category. I mean, wine, or coins, or cars, or art -- those are things that are fun to invest in and if you are in one of those businesses, you can make great returns if you really know your stuff and you fool with it all the time.

But as far as funding something like your 401(k) or your kids' college or saying I'm just going to retire with dignity, that's usually not going to be a painting on the wall for most people. And so, you know, you can -- again, you can dabble in those things.

And I agree with you and I agree with your panel a little bit earlier that gold is a really dangerous thing right now. It's at an all-time high. It's being driven by greed on one side and fear on mainly being driven by fear.

And so, it's a bubble that will burst. It's a fad investment. You'll probably make some money in the next six months if you fool with it. But I wouldn't be in there as my long-term.

And again, the difference in speculator and investor is an investor thinks five, 10, 20 years out whereas a speculator is worried about this week.

MORGAN: How big of a problem, Dave, is lack of trust in banks. I mean, the reason I say that is that I was a victim myself back in Britain when AIG nearly went under post-Lehman Brothers. And it took me weeks and weeks to get money that I thought was completely safe, recommended to me by my bank, in an AIG premium bond. There was a risk at one stage I would lose 90 percent of that money. I had never realized that nor had anybody else that was in that bond.

So, people lost trust, I think, through that crisis period post- Lehman Brothers. And that lack of trust adds to the jitters, doesn't it? Because if you can't trust your bank, who can you trust?

RAMSEY: Well, I agree. And I think that's one of the things that happened with the 2008 debacle -- 2009 debacle that really that the government did do right. I'm pretty critical of a lot of their moves. But the shoring up of the FDIC to undergird the consumers' confidence that bank account, at least up to FDIC limits was going to be safe, that made it OK.

I think the small local banks, your community banks, your regional banks, even your local credit unions, people are a lot more comfortable with them.

They are uncomfortable with the megabanks right now, not so much because they are afraid of them, but the level of customer service that they are getting, the level of incompetence they're dealing with there, it's disturbing. And people are running away from those. We're seeing those stock prices get hammered today, as an example.

And I personally think that's one of the reasons. Banking is part of the thing. I think the thing that people are losing trust more than anything else right now, in this compromise in Washington, and I think the markets have lost trust in that. They don't see that this is really going to be a fix.

If we can see there's really a fix, Americans will step in and sacrifice together to get the thing fixed. But if it's hammering one segment of the economy or another segment of the economy, and the other -- and nobody else is toeing the line, then they're not going to be involved in that.

MORGAN: Finally, Dave -- briefly if you don't mind -- is it ostrich time, in the sense that when these big things start exploding in this volatile way, is sometimes the best thing to do to stick your head straight in the sand and keep it there until it all blows over?

RAMSEY: In a sense, that's true. I have a friend I was laughing the other day. I said he spends all his time watching Fox and CNN, we're going to have to put the boy in a rubber room. If you just watch the news all day long, it will drive you bananas.

MORGAN: Although we do want people to watch the news between 9:00 and 10:00 every night. That's the key thing.

RAMSEY: Right now is when we want them watching. Yes, I think there's a good point to that, in that we don't want to be an ostrich from an ignorant standpoint, but we do want to keep things in perspective. Perspective, again, one more time is that long term perspective.

It's not these dips and these rides. The roller coaster will come to a stop. It has gone up and it has gone down.

MORGAN: Dave Ramsey, thank you very much.

RAMSEY: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MORGAN: And you.

Coming up, a man with strong opinions about keeping America great. Country music superstar Trace Adkins.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Quite honestly, it isn't that difficult to turn the economy around. The solutions, quite honestly, aren't that tough to figure out. What we've been missing from both parties is the political will to just get it done and do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: That was Michele Bachmann yesterday giving her prescription for the economy. Joining me now is man who has a lot to say about the direction of this country, Trace Adkins, country music star, all-American guy, and of course, the guy that I beat in "Celebrity Apprentice."

TRACE ADKINS, COUNTRY SINGER: Oh, you had to just go there right off the -- right off the bat.

MORGAN: Good to see you, Trace. Listen, "Proud To Be Here," name of your new album. One thing I learned about you -- many things I learned about you when we had our month of incarceration with Donald Trump. Exactly, a living hell. But it was a very, very interesting time to talk to someone like you, who is a very proud American and who had been watching what happened post-9/11 to your country and everything else.

When you see what's going on now with America, do you feel proud to be an American still? Or is that pride getting dented?

ADKINS: Well, I'm certainly proud to be an American. But can I be proud of what's going on right now? No. And there's a song on this new album called "More Of Us." The point I'm trying to make in that song is we always need to remember that there are more of us than there are of them. And any time we get sick enough of what's going on up there, we get to go in that ballot box every two years and pull the lever. And we can change the whole thing.

MORGAN: It was interesting to me, watching what's happening in Washington, I actually thought of you at a few stages of that, because there's a total disconnect, it seems to me, between the kind of political chatter that goes on up there and the way they behave, and the way that someone like you, a genuine Heartland American, would actually view reality.

That gap is getting wider, I think.

ADKINS: And somebody like me that -- I'm speaking for myself. Just becoming more intensely frustrated by the whole situation and it just -- there seems to be no -- everybody is just talking past each other. The lines have been so clearly drawn now, and everybody has -- is so ensconced in their political ideals. And they are toeing the party line and nobody is getting anything done.

MORGAN: When you hear Michele Bachmann, are you a Tea Party fan? I know you're a Republican. Do you find yourself nodding when you hear her speak?

ADKINS: Not her particularly. There are a few people that I heard that claim they are from the Tea Party or whatever that I can see the way they look at things. You know, I don't know Michele Bachmann. I don't know her. I don't she's -- she's president.

MORGAN: What do you think has gone wrong with America, in terms of the business model of America? Yes, why does it find itself in such appalling -- ADKINS: I guess it started in '62. Is that what I keep hearing someone say, that since '62, the debt limit has been raised 78 times or something like that. Why have we waited until 2011 for someone to raise their hand and go, excuse me, should we keep doing this? I mean, it makes no sense to me. And it doesn't to anybody else out there either.

If you called -- if your credit card company called and said you are over your limit on your card, and then I call them back and go, you know what, my wife and I and our kids, we all voted and we voted that you should raise your debt limit. And, you know -- oh, well, in that case.

MORGAN: Do you think the reputation of America is getting damaged badly in all this?

ADKINS: Yes, sure. It has to be. Any time the Chinese are saying, you know what, you should start doing things -- they don't have a very sterling record either. And for them to be pointing the finger at us and telling us we need to get our house in order --

MORGAN: Donald Trump, our mutual friend, said of the Chinese that Chinese are eating our lunch. And he thinks they're the enemy. Do you think that's right?

ADKINS: I don't know they're the enemy. I will say this: I, over the last year -- I don't know why it took me so long to do this. I'm ashamed of myself. All of the t-shirts and baseball caps and all of the merchandise that I sell on the road and on my website, I finally last year found all American manufacturing companies to supply me with all that stuff, American vendors.

I'm thinking, why did I wait so long to do that. Let me tell you something, it was hard to do. It was very difficult to find somebody to make all that stuff.

MORGAN: Most of it gets done in China.

ADKINS: Baseball caps especially. The Chinese make all our baseball caps.

MORGAN: Do you think more American business people should be doing that, should be looking more internally now?

ADKINS: I'm taking the hit. I told my merchandise guy. I said, Carl, I'll take the hit on my end. I know it's going to cost more for these products and I'll take the cut out of my end.

MORGAN: To actually take a hit in the way you're describing is not really the American way, is it?

ADKINS: I don't know that it's the American way, but it's my way. It's going to be -- it's me doing at least a little something to make me feel like I'm helping somehow. I'm doing something. If it maybe just gives one more American a job, you know, I'm trying to do something. MORGAN: Your friends, many of them are very Average Joe Americans. They work hard to get the money to buy your albums, to watch you in concert and so on. What do you think they're really concerned about right now? What's the number one concern for them?

ADKINS: Paying their bills and keeping their job. Yeah. I think that's number one right now.

MORGAN: If you're the president, is that where you want to see the focus now, getting Americans back to work?

ADKINS: Yeah, I think so. Do I have any answers? Absolutely not. I do know that -- I know a few things we could do that would solve a lot of problems. We could get into more depth if you wanted to. But if they just let go of the reigns and let the energy developers in this country go to work, it would solve a lot of problems. It would solve a lot of problems.

MORGAN: We're going to take a little break. When we come back, I want to talk about your extraordinary life, where almost every single affliction that normally affects a celebrity has hammered you at some stage. You've been shot, stabbed. You've been into alcohol, substance abuse. Houses have burned down. There's very little that hasn't happened to you.

ADKINS: Indestructible.

MORGAN: You're still alive.

ADKINS: You don't have any wood to knock on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADKINS: So the most heterosexual cowboy on the planet and three- time heavy weight champion of the world go to buy fingernail polish. Not for a woman. Not for our wives. For a man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was from NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice." Trace was the runner-up. I can't remember who beat you in spectacular fashion. I know. It just come back to me.

ADKINS: You know what I was afraid of, though, and honestly -- we were on the very first "Celebrity Apprentice." I thought what if you win and then you have to be like Miss America and follow Trump around all year. Did you have to do that all year?

MORGAN: No, I didn't thankfully. Although, I must say, he's very proud of his "Apprentice" winners.

ADKINS: Isn't he though? MORGAN: He is. He's been terrific.

ADKINS: He's been really supportive of me. Every time something good has happened in my career, he's always very quick to call and congratulate.

MORGAN: He's like that. He calls and he writes and saves cuttings. I have a lot of admiration for him. I'm reading a little list, Trace. I'm going to put this to you as a charge to you of things that have happened to you in your life. Because I have lots of celebrities on this show who have had a few bad things happen to them.

Nobody has quite gone through this. Let's go through this. At the age of 17, you punctured both of your lungs, cracked your ribs, severed your nose and had it reattached after a car crash. You dislodged a 400 pound boulder that rolled over onto you, crushing your fingers.

In 1982, you had an accident with a bulldozer. In '83, an oil tank exploded while you were trying to repair a leak crushing your left leg. In '89, you nearly cut of your finger trying to open a can. In '94, your second wife of three years, Judy Curtis, shot you with a .38 pistol.

In 2002, a small tractor fell on you after a portion of a road collapsed, sustaining injuries to your chest and a rib-sternum separation.

ADKINS: So I have told people that my house burned down probably is not in my top ten. Of course, I love -- there's been such an outpouring of sympathy and empathy and generosity because our house burned.

MORGAN: Your family home just recently burned down.

ADKINS: I've told people, thank you so much. But really --

MORGAN: In perspective.

ADKINS: It's not in the top ten really of bad things that have happened to me. But once I knew that my children and my wife and everybody was OK, and the dogs and everything, then it really was like, whew, you know, house burned down.

MORGAN: Of all of those things, what was the worst, would you say?

ADKINS: Well, my first divorce is not on there. I think that --

MORGAN: You mean to say --

ADKINS: I think that hurt worse than any others.

MORGAN: You mean your first divorce was worse than the second wife shooting you in the chest, was it? ADKINS: It's easier to deal with somebody trying to kill you than somebody saying they don't love you anymore. Just been my experience.

MORGAN: When you were shot -- what's it like being shot?

ADKINS: You just go into shock, you know? I did, anyway. I mean because I didn't really feel anything. I just --

MORGAN: Did you think you were going to die?

ADKINS: Yeah, I do remember thinking that. I mean, getting loaded up and life flighted to Vanderbilt and the whole thing.

MORGAN: I mean, there are two ways of looking at this charge list of incredible instances. One is that you're very unlucky.

ADKINS: Yes.

MORGAN: The other way is that you're very lucky.

ADKINS: Yeah, I've had some things happen to me that I didn't feel like I really deserve, you know?

MORGAN: Your wife, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few times on "Apprentice" -- delightful lady.

ADKINS: She said hello.

MORGAN: Is she well?

ADKINS: She remembers you hitting on her when she was up at -- and that's cool. I was -- she was very proud.

MORGAN: Did you honestly think I'd hit on your wife, given the size of your arms. You've got five girls, a house full of women. Obviously pretty traumatic the whole house burning. They were they there, but you weren't. How did you feel when you got off? You were on a plane I think and you found out as it happened.

ADKINS: It's another one of those things -- you know, people ask -- when I have somebody ask me what kind of father are you, I'm very quick to say, you know, I never going to be father of the year. And this is another example of why. It seemed like every time something like this, just some kind of trauma befalls my family somehow, I'm gone. I'm not there, you know?

And it really makes me feel bad, makes me feel terrible about myself, that I'm not there in those times.

MORGAN: Is that -- is that the nature of the beast?

ADKINS: Yeah, it's part of the gig.

MORGAN: A country star?

ADKINS: Part of the gig, you know? But still, I really -- I get -- I'm hard on myself about stuff like that.

MORGAN: Tell me about the album, because it's a very personal album, as all your albums are. It's out now. What's motivation for this one, "Proud To Be Here"?

ADKINS: You know what? I -- this one is just a little -- it cuts closer to the bone, I think. Every -- every album I do is autobiographical in one degree or another. But this one, I think, hit a little closer to home than some that I've done in the past few years, just -- I don't know, it just reflects -- every record I do, too, always reflects my head space at the time, where I'm at, you know, emotionally, mentally, where I'm at right then.

MORGAN: You came out with a quote where you said I lost everything I owned. I went through a divorce. I kept partying too hard, chasing women, chasing the dream, staying in trouble all the time, but I wouldn't trade that experience, because I learned everything you're not supposed to do. I already made all of those mistakes before I got my break. Do you still feel that?

ADKINS: Yeah.

MORGAN: You kind of got it all out of your system?

ADKINS: Yeah. All of those years that I spent paying my dues, so to speak, what everybody calls it -- it really starvins (ph) what I call it. But I did learn what you're not supposed to do. And I think that's as -- if not more important than the lessons you learn about the things to do to be successful. You really need to learn the things you're not supposed to do and stay away from that.

MORGAN: You went through a very sad time when your brother Scott died in a car accident at the age of 21. You dedicated your debut album to him, and you said they was "a great, great, great kid. He was my first fan."

Does he still act as kind of a quiet motivating factor to you in your career, in your life?

ADKINS: You know, I would like to be able to say yes, but I've moved now 17, 18 years past that. It's hard for me to visualize it.

MORGAN: What would he have made of what's happened to you, do you think?

ADKINS: Oh, he'd be so proud. He'd be so proud because he was an ardent fan. He thought I could do no wrong, you know? He was very wrong about that, but I loved him for it.

MORGAN: I remember Donald Trump falling for the same misapprehension about you, saying Trace can do no wrong.

ADKINS: You know what? This is not "the Apprentice." I will slap the British out of you on this show, because this is -- I'm not having to win anything here. MORGAN: Listen, understand one thing, I was in a competition against Tito Ortiz, Ultimate Fighting champion, Lennox Lewis, heavyweight boxing champion, and you, the biggest meatball in the history of country music, and I took you all down. So the words you're looking for are, good to see you again, champ.

ADKINS: Good to see you, champ.

MORGAN: Trace, it's been a great pleasure. Good luck with the album.

ADKINS: Good to see you.

MORGAN: Trace Adkins' album "Proud To Be Here" in stores now. Coming up, CNN's Ali Velshi with what you should expect from the markets tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Now I want to bring back CNN's Ali Velshi with the opening bell just hours away. Ali, I barely know how to ask you this, but have you got any idea what's going to happen in the markets tomorrow?

VELSHI: I think what you should do before the markets open is pick up some Pepto-Bismol on your way in. It's going to be volatile. I can tell you that. I can also tell you -- I mean, I spend my day looking at these numbers and I spend my evening looking at futures. Forget it. The futures aren't going to tell you what U.S. stocks are going to do tomorrow because this is a such a volatile market, that is so triggered by events that we can't go what's going to happen.

Here's what I'm telling you: every day, we are seeing more and more volume and velocity going into very, very safe investments, like the ten-year note, against which mortgages are priced in the United States. These are at historic lows now. They are -- the interest rate that the U.S. government pays to borrow money is lower today than it was on Monday and Monday was lower than it was Friday.

Everybody still wants safe investments until somebody, somewhere in the world, gives us a reason to believe we're on a better track than we think we're on. So volatility, I can predict with certainty, will be in the markets tomorrow.

MORGAN: Yeah, the one thing I can predict with certainty is it will be unpredictable. Ali Velshi, thank you very much.

ADKINS: All right, Piers.

MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Now here's Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."