[QODLink]
Americas
Obama's US economic jolt
Will the US president-elect and his team prove adept at tackling the finance crisis?
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2008 20:36 GMT

Will Obama's team manage to calm markets more effectively? [GALLO/GETTY]

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, is stepping into a yawning power vacuum in Washington DC in an unprecedented effort to restore confidence in the financial system.

"The truth is, we don't have a minute to waste," Obama has said.

"Right now, our economy is trapped in a vicious cycle: The turmoil on Wall Street means a new round of belt-tightening for families and businesses on Main Street – and as folks produce less and consume less, that just deepens the problems in our financial markets."

Obama said the economy needs a "jolt" - a whopping stimulus package to put people back to work, fix the crumbling public infrastructure and develop clean energy sources.

What he might have added is that the current president needs a jolt to wake him from his irresponsible slumber.

A rare bird

Bush, right, seems to have been largely
absent from the public eye [AFP]

George Bush has checked out early, it seems.

Instead of bearing down 24/7 on dealing with the worst economic disaster in almost a century, the 43rd president has virtually disappeared from public view.

There was a brief sighting of this rare and odd bird over the weekend.

Where?

In Peru, that is right, Peru - dressing up in a cute poncho for a photo opportunity at the largely irrelevant Apec summit in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

Obama, however, got to work.

He has assembled a fairly high-powered economic team in a very short time.

But the team is not without its flaws. Lawrence Summers, named as Obama's new chief economic advisor, was treasury secretary in the late phase of the Bill Clinton administration.

He acquiesced in the fatal decision to repeal the Depression-era, Glass-Steagal Act, which allowed banks and brokerage houses to begin promiscuously inter-marrying and cooking up the absurdly complex derivatives and other such financial hocus-pocus that led, inevitably, to the collapse of the housing market.

Meltdown questions

Meanwhile Timothy Geithner, the prospective US treasury secretary, has been deep in the middle of the current administration's efforts to cope with the meltdown.

Can he explain why banking giant Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, the single most destabilising event of the crisis?

What did he do - or what should he have done -  to prevent the greedy binge of subprime mortgage lending and securitisation?

Those questions will, no doubt, come up during congressional confirmation hearings.

In the meantime, although Obama said earlier that the country can have only one president at a time, he looks like the only leader the country has got right now.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list