WASHINGTON – President Bush said Monday that his administration will work to implement measures to help banks gain access to capital, strengthen the financial system and unfreeze credit markets.
"These are tough times for our economies yet we can be confident that we can work our way through these challenges and America will continue to work closely with the other nations to coordinate our response to this global financial crisis," Bush said following a meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
The Bush administration is moving to implement a $700 billion rescue program, including consulting with private law firms on how to buy ownership shares in banks to help thaw frozen lending and get the economy moving again. In Europe, central banks have begun taking unified actions to ease the credit crisis, which has shaken the global banking system.
Bush met over the weekend with finance officials from around the world. European markets opened strongly Monday following Asia's lead in response to the widespread government initiatives, a sign that coordinated efforts by European and U.S. authorities to prop up the banking system is bringing some relief to markets.
"We're addressing global challenges with determination and vision and with confidence," Bush said in the Rose Garden. "People all over the world are understandably concerned about the global financial crisis and about how it will affect their families and their businesses."
Bush said he appreciated Italy's participation the weekend meetings and welcomed what he said were "bold and specific follow-up actions" by European nations to help resolve the crisis.
"The United States is also acting, and we will continue to implement measures consistent with the G-7 action plan to help banks gain access to capital, to strengthen the financial system, and to unfreeze credit markets and restore confidence in our financial system," Bush said.
Berlusconi said that Bush intends to meet with leaders of the Group of Eight organization of major industrialized nations — the members of the group of seven plus Russia — in the next few weeks. But White House press secretary Dana Perino rolled back expectations of a meeting.
"We're very open to a leaders meeting at some point in the future," she said. "Obviously, right now, the focus is on the coordinated actions taking place around the globe for the immediate economic challenges. There's no date or a decision on a meeting."