Obama calls for unity in recession battle

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama pressed global leaders in a written message Tuesday to take “bold, comprehensive and co-ordinated” steps against the recession.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and Senior Advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and Senior Advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama pressed global leaders in a written message Tuesday to take “bold, comprehensive and co-ordinated” steps against the recession.

Obama set out the U.S. position in advance of next month’s meeting of the Group of 20 largest economies in an essay that the White House said was printed in 31 publications worldwide. In it, the president asked leaders to join together to reverse the downturn.

“For the first time in a generation, the global economy is contracting and trade is shrinking,” Obama wrote.

He said the U.S. government understands “the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. There is no line between action that restores growth within our borders and action that supports it beyond.”

The Group of 20 major economies meets April 2 in London to discuss the global crisis.

There have been indications that the United States is at odds with some countries in Europe that want to focus more on financial regulation than on vast government spending to stimulate their economies.

The Obama essay, however, acknowledged the need for stiffer government controls over financial practices that were a major cause of the momentous global downturn.

“Only co-ordinated international action can prevent the irresponsible risk-taking that caused this crisis. That is why I am committed to seizing this opportunity to advance comprehensive reforms of our regulatory and supervisory framework,” the president said.

And, he wrote, “I also know that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.”

The White House message also held the promise of greater efforts to help developing economies.

“We have an economic, security and moral obligation to extend a hand to countries and people who face the greatest risk,” the president wrote. “If we turn our backs on them, the suffering caused by this crisis will be enlarged, and our own recovery will be delayed because markets for our goods will shrink further and more American jobs will be lost.”

Addressing a particular sore point, so-called “Buy America” language in the legislation that gave his administration $787 billion to stimulate the U.S. economy, Obama declared his opposition to protectionist trade barriers. He did not, however, detail how trade barriers should be lowered.

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