A ray of sunshine for Obama

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, US President Barack Obama and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso at the US-EU Summit in Washington, DC 28 November 2011 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Obama said resolving the eurozone debt crisis was of "huge importance" to the US economy

US President Barack Obama has had some good news from across the Atlantic. But it is a small ray of supportive sunlight, shining through ever darkening clouds.

He met with the European Union's double-headed leadership, Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, as increasing numbers of people - here and in Europe - believe the euro may implode before Christmas.

Despite that, the markets are rallying for now.

But if their newfound optimism proves to be baseless, the US economy could be hit hard.

The White House's message to the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission is the same as it has been for months.

Jay Carney, the US president's spokesman, says the Obama administration believes "Europe needs to take decisive action, conclusive action, to handle this problem, and that it has the capacity to do so".

This translates as: "You still have not done what we told you you have got to do. Time is running out and, by the way, no we are not paying for it - you are."

President Obama could do worse than point them to a Bloomberg exclusive, which demonstrates the immense and costly lengths the Federal Reserve, America's central bank, went to to save the banks.

It is a fascinating story in its own right but the White House message to European countries could be that the European Central Bank should stand by, prepared to do the same.

While the story is designed to shock, some say it shows the Fed is doing its job.

But while President Obama may have President Barroso and President Van Rompuy on hand, it is two other numbers for Europe in his little black book that he will be ringing off the hook.

He has been talking again to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel amid signs they might just be planning to do what is required.

My guess is that the markets will hold off until the next eurozone summit on 9 December and once again there will be just enough action to kick the can down the road.

If I am right, they will still be biting their fingers in the White House and speed-dialling furiously as we head to the holiday season.

What is the good news for President Obama from across the water?

British Chancellor George Osborne is planning to invest $7.75bn (£5bn) in the UK's infrastructure in the hope of stimulating just a little bit of growth.

That's right, build roads and railways, just as President Obama is suggesting in the US.

That a conservative politician who has not been keen on such programmes is reluctantly proposing the same thing may give President Obama just a little bit of ammunition in his fight with Congress and the Republican hopefuls who insist that the only way to encourage growth is for government to get out of the way and cut taxes and red tape.

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