Attention is shifting to non-elected figures who may be able to affect the world economy. In Europe and the United States, markets are hoping that the central banks will act to loosen the availability of credit.
And in China, where the government reported last week that growth had slowed sharply, there is talk of a central-government stimulus plan.
The deepening anxiety about the economy was evident Sunday, when U.S. politicians and their allies took to the airwaves to stake out positions after Friday’s report that just 69,000 jobs were created in May and the unemployment rate climbed to 8.2 percent.
Obama’s advisers spent the day defending the president’s policies and reelection prospects. With only five months to go until Election Day, the campaign of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Obama’s GOP rival, pressed its claim that the administration’s policies were failing to create jobs and risking a return to recession.
“Nobody is happy with the rate of job creation today, but I believe without the policies the president put in place, we wouldn’t have even this level of job creation today,” said Steven Rattner on “Fox News Sunday.” Rattner oversaw the Obama administration’s rescue of the auto industry.
European leaders are running out of time to stabilize their economies. Billionaire investor George Soros, who made much of his fortune betting on economic trends, asserted this weekend that they have just three months to save the euro zone, the community of 23 nations that have shared a common currency for more than a decade.
An early test will come in just two weeks, when Greek voters head to the polls in a vote that will determine whether the country continues to take part in a rescue plan orchestrated by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The plan calls for cuts in government spending and benefits, tough fiscal medicine that has sparked street protests.
If Greek voters elect politicians opposed to the plan, Greece may well be forced to abandon the euro, a cataclysmic event likely to roil financial markets and shake confidence in what once was seen as an important historic milestone — the creation of a single European economy.
Greece’s pullout from the currency union would probably set off financial-market speculation that other fiscally challenged European nations, including Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy, eventually could be forced out, too. Last week, worries about the currency union set off an exodus of capital from those countries into Germany, the United Kingdom, France and even the United States, driving interest rates down in those places to record levels. In Germany, the flood was so great that investors were paying for the privilege of keeping their money in German government bonds.