See also:From April 29, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit an Obama-administration peak of 12,810.54, through Friday when Obama gave his press conference in the south of France, the market had dropped 827.30. In his statement in Cannes about the stock market, Obama was responding to David Muir of ABC News, who asked a question about how the market had been responding to news about the bailout of Greece.
Im curious what you would say to Americans back home whove watched their 401(k)s recover largely when the bailout seemed a certainty, and then this week with the brand new political tumult in Greece, watched themselves lose essentially what they had gained back, said Muir. You mentioned youre confident in the bailout plan. Are you confident this will actually happen, and if so, that it will work?
Well, first of all, Obama responded, if youre talking about the movements of the U.S. stock market, the stock market was down when I first took office and the first few months I was in office about 3,000 points lower than it is now. So nothing has happened in the last two weeks that would suggest that somehow peoples 401(k)s have been affected the way you describe.
In fact, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the stock market has gone up more than 4,000 points since Obama took office. However, at the time of Obamas inauguration the market was descending toward a 12-year low and, as of today, has not climbed back to anywhere near the peak it attained the year before Obama was elected.
The sharp rise in federal borrowing is overwhelming efforts of consumers to reduce debt, leaving the economy deeper in debt than when the recession began in December 2007, a USA TODAY analysis finds. The substitution of government debt for consumer debt helped end the recession and start a recovery, economists say, but it leaves the nation's long-term economic health in peril.
Households have reduced debt by $549 billion since 2007, mostly by cutting mortgages through defaults and paying down credit cards. During that time, the federal government has added more than $4 trillion in debt, pushing the country's total borrowing to a record $36.5 trillion, excluding the financial industry, according to the Federal Reserve. "Government will eventually need to reduce the deficit," says Susan Lund, research director at McKinsey Global Institute, part of the business consulting firm. "But it's a very difficult balancing act to avoid withdrawing stimulus too soon while stopping before you borrow too much."
Lund, who studied 45 financial crises since 1930, says a familiar pattern is underway: Private borrowers reduce debt quickly, government borrows more, a period of government austerity follows a process that can take five to seven years for an economy to repair itself. "Is the debt level we have today going to be the death of us? No," says Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's the trajectory that could do us in. We know we're headed in the wrong direction." Regalia says the recommendations of a special congressional deficit-reduction committee are crucial. The panel reports Nov. 23.
How the USA's debt picture has changed:
Consumers. Households have cut mortgage debt by 10.6% since the mid-2008 peak, after adjusting for inflation. Credit card balances and auto loans outstanding are down 9.6%.
Government. Federal debt has risen from 36.9% of the nation's gross domestic product when the recession began to 67.5% on Sept. 30.
The shift of debt from individual borrowers to all taxpayers will shuffle who pays it off. Younger people will face extra burdens, says North Carolina State economist Nora Traum. But the political outcome of deficit negotiations will determine how the rest is distributed among income levels, age groups, professions and regions. "With such uncertainty, it's hard to say who will be winners and losers," she says.