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Shrinking GDP, Obama Task Force Cap Week’s Economic News

There was more evidence Friday the recession is getting worse, a fact that President Obama and his economic team continued to confront. Columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks mull Mr. Obama's approach.

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    The Commerce Department numbers out today showed the gross domestic product shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent from October through December. That drop marked the weakest performance since 1982, when the country was in a severe recession, but it wasn't as deep as many economists expected.

    Still, with more revisions to come from Commerce, it's widely believed that the final numbers will be worse yet.

    And in a statement today, the President's Council of Economic Advisers said it's clear that the problems that began in the housing and financial sectors have now spread to nearly all areas of the economy.

    At the White House, President Obama himself seized on the figures.

    BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: That's the worst contraction in close to three decades. This isn't just an economic concept; this is a continuing disaster for America's working families.

    As worrying as these numbers are, it's what they mean for the American people that really matters and that's so alarming: families making fewer purchases; businesses making fewer investments; employers sustaining fewer jobs.

    The recession is deepening, and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing. Yesterday, we reached a new threshold: the highest number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits on record. Every day it seems there's another round of layoffs, another round of jobs lost and families' lives turned upside down.