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After a series of intensive meetings and discussions at the G-20 Summit in London, the President today held a press conference
to discuss the fruits of that labor. Discussing how slowly the world has come together to act in previous global crises and the dire consequences that resulted, he noted the contrast with the past two days:
Today, we've learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to the summit, some of you in the press, some commentators, confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
The President announced that the nations attending would form a united international front to create jobs and stimulate the global economy, to help emerging economies stay afloat, and to encourage trade that would benefit all involved. He then went on to discuss one of the central topics of the Summit, namely coordinated and fundamental reform of the financial regulatory systems:
To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We're extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We'll identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will reestablish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform and expand the IMF and World Bank so they are more efficient, effective and representative.
During the question-and-answer section, the President answered a concern on the minds of many:
Q What concrete items that you got out of this G20 can you tell the American people back home who are hurting, the family struggling, seeing their retirement go down, or worrying about losing their job -- what happened here today that helps that family back home in the heartland?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, as I said before, we've got a global economy, and if we're taking actions in isolation in the United States, but those actions are contradicted overseas, then we're only going to be halfway effective -- maybe not even half.
You've seen, for example, a drastic decline in U.S. exports over the last several months. You look at a company like Caterpillar, in my home state of Illinois, which up until last year was doing extraordinarily well; in fact, export growth was what had sustained it even after the recession had begun. As a consequence of the world recession, as a consequence of the contagion from the financial markets debilitating the economies elsewhere, Caterpillar is now in very bad shape. So if we want to get Caterpillar back on its feet, if we want to get all those export companies back on their feet, so that they are hiring, putting people back to work, putting money in people's pockets, we've got to make sure that the global economy as a whole is successful.
President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference Thursday, April 2, 2009, following the G20 Summit in London. White House Photo/Pete Souza)