The president knows how to hedge a bet. While he expressed optimisim for the long term, he prudently stayed away from explicitly telling his flock to put their savings back into a market that seems to have no clear bottom.
He also reiterated one of his favorite mantras to date: "We are going to recover, but it's not going to be overnight." He is hoping that the multifarious efforts of the best and brightest he has working on the country's economic problems begin to have the right effect before the next election cycle.
However, President Obama's guarded optimism didn't have much effect today. The Dow lost 37.27 points (0.55 percent), closing at 6726.02; the Nasdaq lost 1.8 points (0.14 percent) to close at 1321.01; and the S&P dipped below 700, S&P 500, losing 4.49 (0.64 percent) and ending up at 696.33. Not a terrible day in the markets by current standards, but not the positives bounce hoped for after the Dow lost nearly 300 points yesterday.
At expected, car sales figures announced by the big three today were in the tank. Year over year, General Motors' sales dipped 53 percent, Ford's U.S. sales 48 percent and Chrysler's 44 percent.
President Obama can lay blame for economic disaster at the feet of the Bush administration, and preach patience, but a population suffering from job loss, tight credit, foreclosures, toxic assets and other maladies, as well as resentment over propping up failing and mismanaged corporations with taxpayer money, can quickly lose patience.
He is counting on the stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to get the U.S. economic heartbeat going again. "I think that consumer confidence -- as they see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act taking root, businesses are starting to see opportunities for investment and potential hiring, we are going to start creating jobs again," President Obama said during the press conference. The unemployment data due on Friday won't help his quest for consumer confidence. Economists are predicting a 7.9 unemployment rate, wth than 650,000 jobs lost in February.
It's clear that just the thought of a $787 billion stimulus package isn't enough reverse the downward trend. Now the world is watching to see whether the newly installed Obama team quickly and efficiently administer the funds, create jobs and vaporize the cloud hanging over investing in the markets.
Daniel Farber is editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com.