At his joint appearance Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a reporter asked President Obama if he was worried about the U.S. economy shrinking again after the growth that followed the Great Recession, a so-called double-dip recession.
The president decided not to make huge news and send the global financial markets tumbling which would have happened if he had said something like "Yes, I'm petrified about another recession." For that, everyone with 401(k)s should thank him.
I'm not concerned about a double-dip recession. I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we're on is not producing jobs as quickly as I want it to happen.
Prior to this month we had seen three months of very robust job growth in the private sector. And so we were very encouraged by that. This month you still saw job growth in the private sector, but it had slowed down. We don't yet know whether this is a one-month episode or a longer trend.
Obviously we're experiencing some headwinds... But the overall trend that we've seen over the last 15 months — 2 million — over 2 million jobs created over the past 15 months — a rebounding of the manufacturing sector in the United States that's exemplified by the recovery of the Big Three automakers here — all indicates that we have set a path that will lead us to long-term economic growth.
To be president, especially one who's running for re-election with a weaker-than-desired economy as a backdrop, means not ever "talking down the economy," especially because your words matter more than just about anyone else's in the world.
So much of what drives an economy is consumer and investor psychology that presidents, Treasury secretaries or Federal Reserve chairs choose their words like post-housing bubble lenders making mortgage loans — very carefully. And they have a well rehearsed ability to find the silver lining in an economic cloud. That's exactly what Obama demonstrated Tuesday.
Thus, you could go a lifetime without ever hearing a sitting president publicly express worry that the economy he's presiding over is headed for double-dip recession even if on some level he is.
His political opponents might say it. Pundits might say it. But he won't. As comedian Dana Carvey channeling President George H.W. Bush would say: "Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent."