Video: Obama calls for economic unity

msnbc.com news services
updated 3/11/2009 11:41:34 AM ET 2009-03-11T15:41:34

President Barack Obama called Wednesday for international allies to sign on to more aggressive steps to jump-start their own economies, warning that U.S. efforts to pull its own economy back from the brink will falter without global coordination.

“We can do a really good job here at home, with a whole host of policies, but if you continue to see deterioration in the world economy, that’s going to set us back,” Obama told reporters after receiving an Oval Office briefing from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Geithner is headed to Britain this week for talks with the finance ministers of 20 advanced and developing nations. Those meetings are a precursor to a leaders’ summit on the global financial crisis that is taking place in London early next month.

Geithner said there have been many ideas passed among the nations, and good progress made, but that the time for talk is over.

“It’s time now for us to move together and to begin to act,” he said. “Everything we do in the United States will be more effective if we have the world moving with us.”

Obama said the United States has two goals for the so-called Group of 20 summit: to make sure there is “concerted action around the globe to jump-start the economy” and to achieve consensus on regulatory reform to take place in each country.

He did not directly criticize other nations, such as in Europe, which have been reluctant to adopt the kind of expensive stimulus packages for their own economies that have been approved in the United States. But his message that allies are not doing enough compared with the United States was clear nonetheless.

“The United States has actually taken a significant lead on a number of these steps that are required,” he said. “As aggressive as the actions we are taking have been so far, it’s very important to make sure that other countries are moving in the same direction, because the global economy is all tied together.”

Obama has met with several G-20 leaders already in the lead-up to the summit, including Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, hammering home the notion that they only benefit from a strong U.S. economy. The president said those talks have made him “optimistic about the prospects” for a good agreement to come out of London.

“They’re rooting for our success, we got to make sure we’re rooting for theirs,” Obama said.

On the domestic front, Treasury Secretary Geithner said the Obama administration is close to finishing a plan to deal with the toxic assets at the heart of the financial crisis.

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Geithner told interviewer Charlie Rose in an interview that aired Tuesday night that the administration started with “just a deep mess,” but will keep working on the problems until they’re fixed.

Geithner said the plan will be unveiled within the next couple of weeks. It will provide government financing to private investors who are willing to buy the bad assets clogging banks’ balance sheets.

The administration believes that by getting the bad loans and other troublesome assets off banks’ books, it will encourage financial institutions to resume more normal lending to consumers and businesses.

More on  stimulus   |  the economy

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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