Obama Sees ‘Glimmers of Hope’ for the Economy
WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Friday that there are “glimmers of hope” concerning the battered American economy, including an increase in lending to small businesses.
In the last month, there has been a 20 percent rise in loans under the largest program run by the Small Business Administration, the president said after conferring at the White House with his financial advisers.
“And what that means is that small businesses are starting to get money that allows them to keep their doors open, make payroll,” Mr. Obama said. “And that is going to contribute to overall economic growth, as well as help make sure that people are able to keep their jobs.”
The president said the increase in S.B.A. activity was a sign that the administration’s steps to thaw the credit markets were having an effect. In the months since the dimensions of the financial crisis became obvious, getting credit flowing again has been seen as a crucial factor in an eventual recovery.
Mr. Obama also noted “a very significant pickup in refinancings” because of lower mortgage-interest rates.
“That has the effect of not only putting money in the pockets of people but also contributing to stabilization of the housing market,” he said.
The president met with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke; Sheila C. Bair, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Mary L. Schapiro, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency.
Without being specific, Mr. Obama said his administration would take additional steps to bolster the economy over the next several weeks.
Despite a recent rally on Wall Street, Mr. Obama said it was clear that “the economy is still under severe stress, and obviously during these holidays we have to keep in mind that whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobs and rising income for the American people.”
Tacitly acknowledging that optimistic talk in Washington may not mean much to people worried about holding on to their jobs or houses or retirement dreams, Mr. Obama said there was a way to go before recovery.
“And if we stick with it, if we don’t flinch in the face of some difficulties, then I feel absolutely convinced that we are going to get this economy back on track,” he said.