Bush vows coordination with world powers on financial crisis

WASHINGTON -- President Bush pledged Saturday a united response from the world's leading finance ministers to the growing financial crisis that has threatened credit markets and key institutions around the globe.

"We're in this together. We will come through it together," Bush said from the Rose Garden, after a meeting with finance ministers from the world's seven biggest industrialized nations.

Bush also asked for patience with actions that have already been taken, including the $700 billion bailout plan approved by Congress a little more than a week ago. "The benefits will not be realized overnight," Bush said.

The Group of Seven finance ministers, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, were in Washington for a regularly scheduled meeting that took on greater importance after a record week of declines on Wall Street brought on by a freeze in international credit markets.

The International Monetary Fund says it strongly endorses a plan by rich countries to fight the global credit crisis.

The lending institution says in a statement after a day-long meeting that it has given full support to the action plan approved on Friday by wealthy nations.

The IMF's policy setting panel said Saturday the economic crisis is so deep and widespread that it requires excellent coordination among nations and a willingness to take bold action.

The Dow Jones industrial average has fallen by nearly 2,400 points in the past eight trading sessions and is now below 9,000 points for the first time in years. Friday's trading featured wild, sudden swings in a range of 1,000 points.

After meetings on Friday, the G-7 issued a one-page communique that called for coordinated international action, but stopped short of outlining specific steps. For example, it did not endorse a plan from Great Britain calling for coordinated of lending between international banks.

The G-7 statement broadly backed a plan to prevent major banks in each of the countries from failing, unfreeze credit and money markets, boost capital and deposit insurance, and get the sagging mortgage financing system at the heart of the crisis to operate more normally.

Paulson, meanwhile, said the U.S. Treasury Department is moving forward with a plan to have the government buy part ownership in struggling banks, injecting them with capital to ease the strain on lending.

"We are developing strategies to use the authority to purchase and insure mortgage assets and to purchase equity in financial institutions, as deemed necessary to promote financial market stability," Paulson said on Friday.

The housing and credit problems — including borrowers unable to pay mortgages and lenders losing money on complex investments — are affecting consumers worldwide, Bush said in his brief statement. To underscore the severity of the problem, Bush said "that which affects Wall Street affects Main Street as well."

"All of us recognize that this is a serious global crisis and, therefore, requires a serious global response for the good of our people," Bush said, as he underscored that the U.S. has "a special role" to play.

Bush praised the different countries for working together in recent weeks, pointing to this week's joint interest rate cut among several different central banks as an example. But he warned that the G-7 nations must continue to act cooperatively so that "the actions of one country do not contradict or undermine the actions of another."

"In our interconnected world," Bush said, "no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another."

The meeting lasted little more than 30 minutes, less than scheduled.

In addition to the United States, the G-7 consists of Great Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. Also attending the meeting were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and leaders of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Bush's remarks marked the 22st time in the past 27 days that the president has spoken publicly about the economy. He went for a bike ride in a Washington suburb after appearing in the Rose Garden with Rice and the G-7 ministers behind him.

Paulson also met with finance officials from 20 nations. That expanded group includes such growing economic powers as China, Brazil and India.

Bush dropped by to speak to the early evening meeting. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush told the group that the tools are in place for recovery and they "must be used quickly, but effectively."

"He said there will come a time where we need to meet and talk about what we'll do to make sure this never happens again," Fratto said. "But for now our focus has to be on solving the crisis."

In addition, government leaders in Europe plan to meet Sunday in Paris to discuss the crisis.

The Bush administration's recent actions, involving unprecedented government involvement in the nation's financial markets, has drawn some criticism. One such critic used chalk on the sidewalk between the White House and the Treasury building to deliver a message: Fire Paulson.