Bush cancels statement on economy

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President Bush has canceled a statement he had planned to make this afternoon following a meeting with his top financial advisors at the White House.

“We decided it would be best to limit public comment about markets today,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

Mr. Bush was scheduled to make a statement after meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and other top financial officials who make up his working group on financial markets.

Mr. Paulson usually walks right by the press room at the White House on his way into the west wing, when he has meetings with the president.  But today he ducked into an entrance on his way to meet with Mr. Bush that allowed him to avoid talking to reporters.

The other two officials in the working group are Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Chris Cox and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Acting Chairman Walt Lukken.

The question of the day is whether the government or the Fed will intervene to help American International Group Inc., the brokerage giant which analysts believe is on the brink of failure. AIG has teetered following the collapse Monday of Lehman Brothers, and the buyout of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America.

AIG holds $440 billion in credit insurance contracts around the world, and its future grew darker on Monday evening when its credit was downgraded. It is in need of tens of billions of dollars to shore up its capital reserves, a tall order in the current cash-short environment.

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