Week 12: 'Glimmers of hope'

President Obama returns to the U.S. to focus on economic issues including banks and mortgages - and reports signs of recovery.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

100-day scorecard
100-day scorecard
Tracking Obama's unprecedented efforts to rescue the economy.
Does Wells Fargo's outlook signal the start of a bank recovery?
  • Yes
  • No

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama returned to Washington from his first tour of Europe and Iraq this past week -- his 12th week in office -- to move forward with his plan to fix the battered banking sector and to report early signs of a recovery.

After meeting with his top financial advisers Friday, Obama said he was starting to see "glimmers of hope in the economy," partly as a result of his administration's actions. But he acknowledged that the U.S. economy "is still under severe stress."

Obama, in a statement after the meeting, said American workers started to receive their first paychecks reflecting newly-imposed tax cuts this month.

He also said his administration's efforts to unlock lending for small business owners was beginning to pay off.

"As a result of our actions, we've seen a 20% increase in the largest [small business loan] program," he said.

Obama refrained from painting an overly rosy picture, noting that the country is pressured by "a lot of job losses, a lot of hardship, people finding themselves in very difficult situations."

But he ended his speech with a positive note: "I feel absolutely convinced that we're going to get this economy back on track."

The president met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for his daily economic briefing, which typically covers a wide range of economic issues.

Then Obama met with other key figures in the government's financial team, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, to plot the next steps in the stress tests being taken to ensure the solvency of the nation's 19 leading banks.

Mortgage refinance: On Thursday, Obama focused on the mortgage crisis. Meeting with members of his economic team, as well as homeowners who had recently refinanced their mortgages, he urged Americans to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

"There are seven to nine million people across the country who right now could be taking advantage of lower mortgage rates," said Obama. "We estimate that the average family can get anywhere from $1,600 to $2,000 a year in savings by taking advantage of these various mortgage programs that have been put in place."

The president also said he was working with banks to establish a loan modification program.

International tour: Earlier this week, Obama wrapped up his whirlwind tour of Europe, which had begun with the G20 meeting in London the prior week.

On Tuesday, his last full day overseas, he met with Turkish students in Istanbul, and dropped in on U.S. troops during a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he was warmly received.

100-day scorecard: Week 12. CNNMoney.com will continue to track Obama's first 100 days in office and keep score of the government's unprecedented efforts to fix the ailing economy. (Last week's article is available here.) To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
17 cool gadgets that tease the future Smart telescopes, surveillance for dogs, an electric roadster and more from CES 2018. More
These 12 airplane beds let you really sleep on a flight For the price of a premium class ticket, you may just get a space that's comfortable, private, and quiet enough to ensure a good rest. More
CES 2018 kicks off with oddball gadgets The biggest tech show of the year opened with a collection of quirky gadgets. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play