Obama wrings his hands about US economy's 'bumpy road'

Image copyright AFP
Image caption On his trip to a Chrysler plant, Mr Obama seemed to justify the past rather than look to the future

Boston

Boston is better placed than many American cities to take advantage of any economic recovery.

The unemployment figures are better than the national average and it is strong in fields that are doing well, like biotech and education.

So it is telling that businesses here are nervous and economists pretty gloomy.

The Pioneer Institute's Jim Stergios, who is well plugged into the local economy, tells me that from big financial institutions to old-style manufacturing, no-one quite knows what the future holds. And while they remain uncertain, they won't hire people, he says.

President Barack Obama dismissed today's jobs figures as signs the US economy has hit "bumps on the road to recovery".

But Mr Stergios says they are "much more than a hiccough on the road to recovery, they are a sign of deep and abiding uncertainty".

He and others I talk to do not think a second recession - a double dip, in the jargon - is on the way.

But they do think that the fragile recovery looks even more vulnerable.

Economists feel that a full recovery won't happen until 2013. Too late by then for Mr Obama. It will be a year after the presidential election.

Today's presidential visit to a Chrysler plant in Ohio left him looking backwards rather than forwards - justifying the past, not talking about a better future.

There's little he can do. He bailed out the car companies but Congress won't let him spend any more stimulus money, even if he wanted to.

With interest rates at zero and two attempts at printing more money under its belt already, the Fed has no where to go either.

The president today used the analogy of a person being hit by a truck: it takes a long time to recover.

The newly and reluctantly inactive president may find his latest economic stance gets a warmer welcome from Republicans and independents. But it doesn't look particularly like leading from the front.

The president makes himself sound like a once enthusiastic and helpful bystander at the scene of a terrible crash, now reduced to standing by a hospital bed, wringing his hands, and hoping for the best.