Obama Points To Signs Of Life In Economy
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From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
President Obama said today that he's starting to see progress toward an economic recovery. He cautioned that many people are still losing their jobs, their homes, and their savings but the president said he's confident that the economy is getting back on track. That's far from a universal view and just ahead we'll talk with two economic columnists on the subject. First, out to the White House where Mr. Obama spoke after meeting with his treasury secretary, top bank regulators and the chairman of the Federal Reserve. They discussed steps the administration has been taking to stabilize the financial sector. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama is a careful cheerleader, one who's not given to wild swings about the economy like, say, the stock market. But he did allow himself some cautious optimism today. He said the government's had some success unlocking credit markets, low mortgage rates are allowing more people to refinance, putting extra money in their pockets. And workers pay checks are a little bit bigger this month, thanks to the tax cuts included in the economic stimulus package.
President BARACK OBAMA: What you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy. Now we have always been very cautious about prognosticating and that's not going to change just because it's Easter.
HORSLEY: The president was echoing comments made yesterday by his economic advisor Larry Summers. And like Summers, Mr. Obama warned it will take longer to see improvement in the economic indicator most important to many people: jobs.
Pres. OBAMA: The economy is still under severe stress. And obviously during these holidays we have to keep in mind that whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobs and rising incomes for the American people.
HORSLEY: A few weeks ago Mr. Obama announced a plan to increase lending to small businesses and today he suggested it's paying off. Over the last month, he said lending through one small business administration program has increased by 20 percent.
Pres. OBAMA: And what that means is the small businesses are starting to get money that allows them to keep their doors open, make payroll and that is going to contribute to overall economic growth as well as help make sure that people are able to keep their jobs.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama also got an update on the government nascent effort to relieve banks of their toxic assets. Bank stocks surged yesterday after Wells Fargo said it would report bigger than expected profits for the first quarter. Bank analyst Fred Cannon of KBW says the news may not be so encouraging next week when Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup report their earnings.
Mr. FRED CANNON (Bank Analyst, KBW): I don't think anyone should look at the Wells Fargo results and say that credit problems in the U.S. economy are starting to turn yet. We think that there's a lot of bad news to come.
HORSLEY: Cannon notes that even the Wells Fargo report was preliminary with a lot of important details left out. Heading into the Easter weekend, he said it seemed as if Wall Street was just looking for an excuse to set aside its skepticism.
Mr. CANNON: It's spring time and baseball season's starting, why not feel good for a while?
HORSLEY: President Obama promised additional action in the coming weeks to boost the economy. Even with some signs of progress, he said we've still got a lot of work to do.
Scott Horsley NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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