WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush emerged from a meeting with foreign financial officials on Saturday and pledged a global response to the credit crisis that will lead toward a "path of stability and long-term growth."
Bush announced no new strategies to attack the economic woes circling the globe, stressing instead, "We will do what it takes to resolve the crisis and the world's economy will emerge stronger as a result."
The president spoke in the Rose Garden outside the White House, joined there in a show of solidarity not long after daybreak by finance officials from the G-7 — Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada, in addition to the United States. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also attended.
"The United States has a special role to play in leading the response to this crisis," the president said. "That is why I convened this morning's meeting here at the White House and it is why our government will continue using all the tools at our disposal to resolve this crisis."
He added, "As our nations carry out this plan, we must ensure that the actions of one country do not contradict or undermine the actions of another. In an interconnected world, no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another. We are in this together. We will come through it together."
Bush's comments were aimed at avoiding the mistakes that worsened economic conditions during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Then, some nations pursued go-it-alone strategies such as erecting protectionist trade barriers to shield their domestic industries. Those trade barriers ended up only worsening the global downturn.
In the current crisis, Ireland moved to guarantee all bank deposits, a decision that triggered similar actions in Germany and other nations which were concerned that nervous depositors would move their bank accounts to Ireland.
The White House meeting lasted about a half-hour, less than scheduled.
Officials from the Group of 20 countries — which include the wealthiest and the world's biggest developing nations such as China, Brazil and India — planned to attend a meeting Saturday evening that Paulson requested to explain the actions that U.S. and other wealthy nations have taken.
For Bush, it was the 22nd time in 27 days that he has spoken publicly about the financial crisis. Congress heard testimony last week that the retirement accounts of Americans have lost $2 trillion in the past 15 months, and the New York Stock Exchange Dow Jones industrials average plummeted more than 18 percent last week alone. The average had its worst week on record in both point and percentage terms.
A wave of selling sent markets lower in several Asian and European nations on Friday, while other exchanges were closed to prevent the same fate.