Bush: 'Uncertainty and fear' caused stock market plunge

WASHINGTON -- President Bush blamed much of the stock market's "startling drop" on "uncertainty and fear" Friday as he sought to settle financial markets and instill confidence in American businesses and consumers.

Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden before jetting off for fundraisers in Florida and South Carolina, Bush said the government, acting with foreign nations, has done enough to contain the crisis that has gripped Wall Street and sent the U.S. economy heading into recession.

"Here's what the American people need to hear — that the United States government is acting," Bush said. "We will continue to act."

Bush said recent actions by his administration and Congress, including a $700 billion rescue plan for ailing financial institutions, will right the financial ship of state. He said the government has "a wide range of tools at our disposal. We are using these tools aggressively."

As he has done on most days for the past three weeks, Bush sought to calm Americans concerned about their investments and retirement savings, so as to avoid further panic selling.

"Anxiety can feed anxiety," he said, "and that can make it hard to see all that is being done to resolve the problem."

"Fellow citizens, we can solve this crisis, and we will," he said.

The president outlined several areas in which the government has taken action, including the $700 billion rescue plan, infusing cash into the marketplace, cutting interest rates, raising the limit on insured accounts from $100,000 to $250,000, prosecuting illegal manipulation of the markets, helping homeowners struggling with their mortgages and coordinating actions with international partners.

He said he would meet Saturday with finance ministers from the world's other major financial powers. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he said, would meet with counterparts from 20 countries. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank also are involved in weekend meetings here.

"The world is sending an unmistakable signal," he said. "We're in this together and we'll come through this together."

Bush said the size of the government's overall plan is "big enough to work." He concluded his brief remarks by saying: "This is an anxious time. But the American people can be confident in our economic future."