Bush’s Optimistic Speech Can’t Hide His Economic ‘Impotence’
Is there anything that President Bush – or any policy maker – can do to address the economic crisis that the United States and the world now confronts? More to the point, perhaps, how many people believe there is anything he can do? William Waack, World Affairs columnist for Brazil’s O Globo, writes, ‘If the economic consequences, as mentioned above, are difficult to foresee, the political consequences seem reasonably clear – especially for American politics … Change benefits the Democrats – and runs counter to the general perception of a government that (once again) is trying to use words to cover up reality.’
By William Waack
Translated By Brandi Miller
March 17, 2008
Brazil – O Globo – Original Article (Portuguese)
In Washington this Monday (3/17), St. Patrick’s Day should have been a day of celebration. It has become popular in the United States to enjoy (in general, with a lot of beer) this day of Ireland’s patron saint. But George W. Bush cancelled the party to talk about an issue that he claims isn’t that serious: the global financial crisis.
It’s obvious to any market novice that Bush (or any other head of state of a major economy) couldn’t have said anything other than what was heard today. Instead of crisis, the American President prefers the word “challenge.” Are the Americans in recession? “The world will envy us again soon,” he responded.
Even less can one expect the American president or any of his principle subordinates to say that the government in Washington is ready to save other banks in difficulty (as was done with Bear Stearns) – or if there is another package being prepared to ease the lives of those who cannot comply with the rules of the mortgage system (Bush recently approved a $170 billion Congressional package).
Then why convene meetings? And why make announcements? Critics cited mainly in the European press say that Bush’s attempt on Monday to verbally counteract a financial tsunami (of a still unknown amplitude, depth and consequence) recalled the crisis of 1929, which made then- Republican President Herbert Hoover a folkloric character – for having ignored the signs of a catastrophe. “The president’s hands-off attitude is reminiscent of Herbert Hoover in 1929, in 1930,” shot Democratic senator Charles Schumer to the International Herald Tribune today .
There really isn’t much the American government can do at the moment, a fact which is universally recognized. The Republican candidate for presidential John McCain released a statement praising the attempt by the American central bank, the Federal Reserve, to stimulate the financial system (even if that means saving Bear Stearns – a bank that created its own difficulties) – and he never even mentioned Bush. Government impotence leads to market tranquility. What they fear is an admission that the FED may have run out of tools.
Ben Bernanke, the chairman of that institution, is respected in the academic world as one of the great scholars of the depression of the 1930s, which resulted from the October 1929 crash. But the main argument of skeptics regarding the ability of the FED to ease the crisis is substantial: …
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