Chrysler chairman Lee A. Iacocca never minces words or pulls a punch. When he exclaims, ''Consumer interest rates are a national scandal,'' your ears perk up and you pay attention to what he has to say.
It makes no sense to have inflation at zero and consumer rates at 15 percent, Mr. Iacocca says, adding: ''The difference between inflation and the real rate of interest should be no more than 2 or 3 points. Now they're 15 points over. So it'll take Volcker or Reagan to figure it out. That's not my job.''
Then pausing for a while, he adds: ''If we can get a consumer bank rate which allows your kid to buy a house or a car at 10 percent, it'll break this thing wide open.''
On gasoline, Mr. Iacocca says he'd keep the price of imported fuel at $34 a barrel by adjusting the tax up or down. If the price drops to $22 a barrel, he'd tack on a $12 tax. That way, he says, the price at the pump would stay the same, and the federal government could reduce the national deficit.
Asked if there is still any arrogance left in Detroit, he declares:
''Well, we were all arrogant. But after losing $12 billion in two years, you get humble. And if anybody isn't humble out there, he's crazy. He'd better get with it and serve his customers.
''If anybody is arrogant in Detroit, he'll pay a price for it. If we don't build the cars the public wants to buy, or overprice them, or gives the customer lousy service, he'll take a walk on you.
''We paid our dues; we lost our shirts.''