Bush says he’s working to calm economic turmoil

By | September 18, 2008

Eager to show that he feels people’s pain, President Bush scuttled a political fundraising trip Thursday to tell the country his administration is working feverishly to calm turmoil in the financial markets.

Bush was supposed to spend the day in Alabama and Florida raising money for Republicans and talking energy policy. He canceled his trip and sent Vice President Dick Cheney to sub for him at the fundraisers to focus on the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.

“The American people are concerned about the situation in our financial markets and our economy,” Bush said. “And I share their concerns.”

The tumult in financial markets and the disappearance of corporate giants have shaken people’s faith in the economy. On Wall Street, the fear is that more significant financial companies will fall, causing a spillover effect within the United States and on world markets.

In brief formal remarks outside the Oval Office, Bush sought to show that the administration is moving swiftly and aggressively by taking “extraordinary measures.”

Earlier this month, the administration took over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. At the start of this week, the Federal Reserve rescued American International Group Inc., an insurance giant, from bankruptcy by granting an emergency $85 billion loan that gives the government an 80 percent stake in the company. …

Despite the government’s extensive actions, Lehman Brothers, the country’s fourth-largest investment bank, filed for bankruptcy protection this week. A weakened Merrill Lynch, deciding it couldn’t go it alone anymore, found help in the arms of Bank of America.

A private business group reported Thursday that the economy’s health deteriorated for the second consecutive month in August as building permits dropped and unemployment claims rose. Oil prices are rising again as investors eye U.S. financial turmoil. Employers are cutting payrolls. New applications for unemployment benefits are up, partly due to Hurricane Gustav. The housing market remains unstable. – ap

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