Pressure Is on for Obama, but This Rescue Relies on All of Us

President-elect Barack Obama faces great pressure to
President-elect Barack Obama faces great pressure to "fix" the economy. But there are limits to what the government can do. (By Shizuo Kambayashi -- Associated Press)
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008; Page D01

Who would have thunk it?

Goldman Sachs lays off nearly 3,300 and could post its first quarterly loss since becoming a publicly owned company.

Starbucks comes within a whisker of a money-losing quarter.

General Motors begs Washington for a payday loan, warning it may collapse without it.

KKR, the buccaneer of private equity, is unable to sell shares to public investors.

The federal budget deficit hurtles toward $1 trillion, with serious economists arguing it should go even higher.

Oil-rich Russia scrambles to defend its currency, oil-rich Dubai steps in to rescue its banks and China -- China! -- worries enough about a slowdown that it promises a stimulus package equal to 15 percent of its annual economic output.

Things are so bad that even the Yellowstone Club, Montana's super-exclusive private ski and golf resort, where the price of admission starts at $5 million, has filed for bankruptcy.

With the events of the past few days, it's become clear that even the strongest players, the biggest companies and the richest investors are facing serious financial challenges.

The speed at which things have come unraveled is breathtaking. Only a few months ago inflation was the big worry and some analysts were suggesting that the U.S. economy might avoid a recession. Now, the fear is of deflation and a global depression.

And just when we think we have rescued a company or stabilized a market, an AIG or a Fannie Mae suddenly requires another dose of money and attention.

The election of any new president leads inexorably to heightened expectations of what he can accomplish, but that is particularly true at a time like this, when Americans are desperate for someone who can stanch job losses, put a floor under house prices, prevent foreclosures and restore value to diminished 401(k) retirement accounts. There is extraordinary pressure on Barack Obama -- from the public, the news media, Congress and even from other world leaders -- to move quickly and decisively "fix" the U.S. economy.

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