President Barack Obama,
speaking to a high-level advisory panel of economic experts, said on
Wednesday that U.S. financial markets had improved recently but he was
concerned the country would face higher unemployment for some time.

We're pleased that we've seen some progress, that there is some
return to normalcy in certain aspects of the financial markets, Obama
said at a White House meeting of his 16-member Economic Recovery
Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

We expect that there is going to be some stabilizing in the economy
... will begin to turn again, he added. The concern that we have is
that even in a stabilized situation there is the prospect of higher
unemployment for some time to come.

Obama told the group he remained committed to looking beyond the
immediate crisis and wanted to put the economy on a sounder footing by
promoting clean energy and green jobs to help spur economic recovery
in the longer term.

The president said the House Energy and Commerce Committee was
making more progress than we would have ever expected on climate
change legislation.

He led the panel, which includes GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt
and Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens, in a discussion of green energy issues,
including proposals for reducing greenhouse gases emissions with a
market-based cap and trade system.

Panel member Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO
labor federation, said there was great potential for the United States
to lead in job-creating clean energy exports but voiced concern that
free trade agreements the administration was considering would
disadvantage American business in global competition.


Obama announced the creation of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board
in February, but its work had been entirely behind-the-scenes until
Wednesday's first quarterly meeting, which was carried live by Internet
feed on the White House website.

Volcker's role in advising Obama is of keen interest to many on Wall
Street, where the 81-year-old former central banker remains a towering
figure known for breaking the back of runaway inflation during the

Volcker has continued to weigh in on public policy matters since
leaving the Fed in 1987. He was a key adviser to Obama during the
campaign and speaks frequently with White House officials on
financial-regulatory and other issues.

But he has vented some frustration to associates about his level of access within the White House economic power center.

Obama's inner circle on economic policy consists of National
Economic Council director Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury
secretary; current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner;
Christina Romer, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and
Austan Goolsbee, a longtime Obama adviser who sits on the Council of
Economic Advisers and is also chief of staff on the Volcker panel.

The economic recovery panel, which includes Democrats and
Republicans and people from business, academia, public policy and labor
union backgrounds, is intended to give Obama some outside perspective
on economic issues.