- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

President Obama said Friday after meeting with his economic team that the U.S. economy is starting to show “glimmers” of recovery but his administration still has much work to do.

“Whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobsand rising incomes for the American people,” the president said.

Mr. Obama announced no new plans or specifics and instead focused ongovernment efforts andrecent developments that suggest U.S. financial markets are stabilizing and the worst of the recession might be over. He also said his administration will announce new plans in the coming weeks.

The president restated points made Thursday that historic-low mortgage rates and the sharp increase in refinance applications show renewed strength in the credit markets and “great progress” in reviving the U.S. housing industry.

Mr. Obama also said his administration has made efforts to help entrepreneurs and others by increasing funding last month by 20 percent to the Small Business Administration.

He said the money will helps small businesses meet payroll and help people keep jobs.

The U.S. economy has shown signs of recovery recently.

Wells Fargo on Thursday became the fourth major bank to report record earnings in the first quarter, in part because of the 88-percent increase in mortgage refinancing, mortgage rates as low as 4.6 percent and a $25 billion cash infusion from taxpayers

The surprise announcement by Wells Fargo, a top mortgage lender, was similar to those made last month by Citigroup, JP Morgan and Bank of America.

U.S. stock markets also have rallied, including a 246-point gain Thursday by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, taking it over the 8,000-mark again for the second time in the past two weeks.

However, Mr. Obama cautioned that the economy is “still under severe stress.”

“Right now we’re still seeing a lot of job losses, a lot of hardship,” the president said at the five-minutes news briefing after the meeting. “People finding themselves in very difficult situations, either because they’ve lost their homes or seen their savings deteriorate.”

Mr. Obama also said he and the team of economic advisers who met Friday — including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair — were please with efforts to develop a public-private “mechanism” to buy toxic debt from banks.

Mr. Obama said the meeting also was attended by Security and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Shapiro and Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, who did not attend the last one. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner also attended the meeting.

Mr. Obama said the economy also should get a boost from a recent tax cut that has put more money in workers’ paychecks.


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