Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 10:12 am
Morning in London
At 10:15 A.M. London time the President and Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a joint press conference following a working meeting. The Prime Minister opened with a message suited for the times:
Ours is not an alliance of convenience; it is a partnership of purpose. It's a partnership that at times of challenge is resilient and at times of change is constant.
President Obama and I are agreed about the significance of this week's G-20 meeting, that the world is coming together to act in the face of unprecedented global financial times. Our first duty is to those who are suffering most -- the people anxious about their mortgages, their jobs and their family's future. For them, the pain of recession is all too real. But let us not forget that in 1929, when the Wall Street crash happened and led to recession, it was not until 1945 that the world came together to reshape the world economy. Then it took more than 15 years.
Today, within months of this financial crisis, we are coming together to solve the common problems we face, we are cooperating to shorten the recession, and we are working together to protect and save jobs.
The President followed, also emphasizing the urgency of the occasion, discussing the need for the G-20 Summit to produce a comprehensive, cooperative plan to address the global economy and the need for renewed international commitment in Afghanistan.
During the question-and-answer period the President was asked a question that encapsulated much of the media discussion around the , "Mr. President, you come here with several signs of fairly broad challenges to American economic leadership. There's the resistance to big, new stimulus spending; there's talk of a global -- new global currency; talk of even stricter regulations than are on the table now. How do you answer that? And what do you say to the talk that there's a decline in the American model, American prominence?" He answered confidently:
Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn't worked out that way, because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model, and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
Now, with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful, that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that given our prominence in the world financial system, it's natural that questions are asked -- some of them very legitimate -- about how we have participated in global financial markets.
Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated. If you look at where there has been the biggest debate, and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative -- this whole issue of fiscal stimulus. And the fact of the matter is, is that almost every country that's participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus. The ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment.