President Barack Obama said Friday he is starting to see glimmers of hope on the economic horizon, but urged Americans to persevere on the bumpy road to recovery.
Fresh from a meeting with key officials including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Obama noted that the economy remains under severe stress, but insisted, We're starting to see signs of progress.
If we stick with it and don't flinch in the wake of some difficulties, we will see improvements, said the president.
Obama said that government regulators met to discuss the ongoing stabilization of the financial system and the steps that have already been taken.
Praising the work of Bernanke and the coordinated activities between the various agencies, Obama noted signs of stabilization on the housing front.
What we've seen is mortgage interest rates go down to historic lows and we've seen a very significant pick-up in refinancings, remarked Obama. That has the effect of not only putting money in the pockets of people but also contributing to stabilization of the housing market.
Obama on Thursday met with several families who have recently refinanced their homes in an event designed to highlight the administration's efforts to address the housing crisis.
He cited new statistics showing an 88 percent increase in refinancing in the last month, with government-backed mortgage giant Fannie Mae refinancing $77 billion in mortgages in march alone.
Also Friday, Obama expressed optimism that credit conditions have thawed in other markets, particularly in the area of small business.
Referencing a 20 percent increase in the largest Small Business Administration loan program in the last month, Obama said that small businesses are starting to get money that allows them to keep their doors open, make payroll, and that is going to contribute to our overall economic growth, as well as help make sure that people are able to keep their jobs.
The president said the because of the combined impact of infrastructure projects, innovative energy programs and tax relief, glimmers of hope have appeared across the economy.
We have always been very cautious about prognosticating, and that's not going to change, Obama said. We've still got a lot of work to do.
When asked in a short question and answer session following his remarks whether the recession was abating, the president stuck with his analysis that progress is being made, holding back further comment.
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