Their assessment stands in stark contrast with Obama's popularity with the public, with a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll giving him a 60 percent approval rating. But a majority of the 49 economists polled is dissatisfied with the administration's economic policies.
On average, they gave the president a mark of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42 percent of respondents graded Obama below 60. Geithner fared even worse, with an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.
"The Obama team has blown it," said David Resler of Nomura Securities.
Some economists were underwhelmed by the $787 billion stimulus package, with 43 percent saying the U.S. will need another stimulus package on the order of nearly $500 billion. Others were skeptical of the need for stimulus. "The package already passed was too much too late," said Dana Johnson of Comerica Bank.
However, economists' main complaint centers on the administration's plan for the banking sector. "The most important issue in the short run is the financial rescue," said Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital. "They overpromised and underdelivered. Secretary Geithner scheduled a big speech and came out with just a vague blueprint. The uncertainty is hanging over everyone's head."
Geithner unveiled the Obama administration's plans Feb. 10, but he offered few details, and stocks sank on the news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 20 percent since the announcement, as multiple issues have weighed on investors' confidence. In the ensuing weeks, the Treasury secretary has appeared before Congress and offered more specifics but has said action on key parts of the plan still is weeks away.