Prepared Remarks of President
Saturday, November 14, 2008
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend I am hosting a summit on the global financial crisis with leaders of developed and developing nations. By working together, I'm confident that with time we can overcome this crisis and return our economies to the path of growth and vitality.
I know many of you listening are worried about the challenges facing our economy. Stock market declines have eroded the value of retirement accounts and pension funds. The tightening of credit has made it harder for families to borrow money for cars, homes, and education. Businesses have found it harder to get loans to expand their operations and create jobs. Many nations have suffered job losses and have serious concerns about the worsening economy.
Nations around the world have responded to this situation with bold measures, and our actions are having an impact. Credit markets are beginning to thaw and businesses are gaining access to essential short-term financing. It will require more time for these improvements to fully take hold and there will be more difficult days ahead, but the United States and our partners are taking the right steps to get through the crisis.
As we address the current crisis, we also need to make broader reforms to adapt our financial systems to the 21st century. So during this summit, I will work with other leaders to establish principles for reform, such as making markets more transparent and ensuring that markets, firms, and financial products are properly regulated.
All these steps will require decisive actions from governments around the world. At the same time, we must recognize that government intervention is not a cure-all. While reforms in the financial sector are essential, the long-term solution to today's problems is sustained economic growth. And the surest path to that growth is free markets and free people.
This is a decisive moment for the global economy. In the wake of the financial crisis voices from the left and right are equating the free enterprise system with greed, exploitation, and failure. It is true that this crisis included failures by lenders and borrowers, by financial firms, by governments and independent regulators. But the crisis was not a failure of the free market system. And the answer is not to try to reinvent that system. It is to fix the problems we face, make the reforms we need, and move forward with the free market principles that have delivered prosperity and hope to people around the world.
The benefits of free market capitalism have been proven across time, geography, and culture. Around the world free market capitalism has allowed once impoverished nations to develop large and prosperous economies. And here at home, free market capitalism is what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history.
Just as important as maintaining free markets within countries is maintaining the free movement of goods and services between countries. There are many ways for nations to demonstrate their commitment to open markets. The United States Congress can take the lead by approving free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea before adjourning for the year.
In the long run, Americans can be confident in the future of our economy. We will work with our partners around the world to address the problems in the global financial system. We will strengthen our economy. And we will continue to lead the world toward prosperity and peace.
Thank you for listening.