Romer: Obama Adminstration Helped Country Survive “Biggest Macro-Economic Shock” in its History

Mar 9, 2009 6:19pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe & Lisa Chinn report: A top adviser to President Obama today said the country had survived "the biggest macro-economic shock" in its history, but was still in far better position than during the Great Depression thanks to "a much better policy response" by the new administration than the nation had in the 1930s.

"We’ve faced what is arguably the biggest macro-economic shock we’ve probably ever had, right? And yet why are we where we are today? I think partly we’ve had a much better policy response already," said Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, as she delivered an upbeat address this afternoon at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

While Romer did not rule out a second stimulus package if necessary, she did preach patience to see if the $787 billion plan has the desired effects.

"I feel we absolutely need to let this one work," she said. "It is just, the checks are just now going out the door, withholding tables are just now being changed. And so I feel very strongly, we need to let the medicine work for a while to see if it does the trick."

"A lot of the forecasters are still talking about an upturn in the second half of the year and so I think we should wait and see," she added. "There’s going to be monitoring of this stimulus package and this economy like we’ve never had before and we’re just going to have to watch it and see if we’re getting the kind of results we hope and feel we will."

Echoing the words of National Economic Council director Larry Summers, who has urged world leaders to boost global demand, Romer today called on other countries to follow suit with aggressive actions of their own to reverse the global recession.

"The more that countries throughout the world can move toward monetary and fiscal expansion, the better off we will all be," she said. "In this regard, the aggressive fiscal action in China and the reduction in interest rates in Europe and the UK announced last week were welcome news. They are paving the way for a worldwide end to this worldwide recession."

Such a message from the administration will likely be carried by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as he heads to England this weekend for a G20 finance ministers meeting ahead of the much-anticipated full G20 summit in London next month.

Also this afternoon, fielding questions from the audience after her speech, Romer defended the administration’s ambitious decision to undertake healthcare reform at the same time as they wrestle with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"A bit of me says maybe the middle of a crisis is the right time as we’re all focused on the economy, we know the problems that we face," she said. "Maybe this is the time we can all pull together and actually get it done."

But one thing Romer would not do today is be drawn out on any flaws in the stimulus plan…

"You want me to tell you what’s wrong with the fiscal stimulus package?" she responded incredulously to a questioner. "SO not going to do that!"

- Matthew Jaffe & Lisa Chinn

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