President Obama held a news conference today in Cannes, France, where he and other leaders from the G-20 nations have wrapped up a two-day summit. We live-blogged as he spoke.
Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. On The President's Comments About GDP And The Economy Since He Took Office:
As we reported, the last question of the news conference was about whether the president thinks he has been an effective leader on economic issues. And he said that, "when I came into office, the U.S. economy had contracted by 9 percent ... the largest contraction since the Great Depression. ... A little over a year later it was growing 4 percent and has been growing ever since."
The Bureau of Economic Analysis posts GDP historical figures here. In fourth-quarter 2008, the last quarter before Obama took office, GDP fell at an 8.9 percent annual rate. A year later, in fourth-quarter 2009, it grew at 3.8 percent annual rate.
In the quarters since then, here are the annual rates of growth:
-- First-quarter 2010: 3.9 percent.
-- Second-quarter 2010: 3.8 percent.
-- Third-quarter 2010: 2.5 percent.
-- Fourth-quarter 2010: 2.3 percent.
-- First-quarter 2011: 0.4 percent.
-- Second-quarter 2011: 1.3 percent.
-- Third-quarter 2011: 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the nation's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in December 2008, the month before Obama took office. It peaked at 10.1 percent in October 2009. Since then, the lowest level has been March 2011's 8.8 percent. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the jobless rate last month was 9 percent.
Update at 11:03 a.m. ET. Is He An Effective Leader On The Economy?
Asked about his economic track record, the president says that "when I came into office, the U.S. economy had contracted by 9 percent ... the largest contraction since the Great Depression. ... A little over a year later it was growing 4 percent and has been growing ever since."
Growth, though, he concedes, is still too slow to bring down unemployment and help most Americans.
That was the last question-and-answer of the news conference.
Update at 10:56 a.m. ET. Sympathy For His Peers:
"Let's recognize how difficult this is," Obama says of solving Europe's financial crisis. "I have sympathy for my European counterparts. We saw how difficult it was for us to save the financial system back in the United States." With Europe's multiple governments and other institutions, the task could be even harder, he says.
But, the president says, he is confident European leaders can take the necessary action.
Update at 10:53 a.m. ET. "Strong Signal" From Europe Is Critical:
Speaking about the eurozone financial crisis, the president says that world markets are looking for a "strong signal from Europe that they're standing behind the euro," and that he believes European leaders have sent just that signal.
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. Political Implications Of High Unemployment?
Asked how the stubbornly high U.S. unemployment rate will affect his re-election chances, the president says the "least of my concerns at the moment is the politics of a year from now." He's "worried about putting people to work now," Obama adds, and says again that action needs to be taken back in Washington on his ideas for boosting job growth.
Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Why Europe's Economy Matters:
"If Europe isn't growing, it's harder for us to do what we need to do for the American people," especially creating jobs, the president says.
Update at 10:43 a.m. ET. Europe Can Solve Its Crisis:
"I am confident Europe has the capacity to meet this challenge," Obama says of the financial crisis that threatens the eurozone.
Update at 10:41 a.m. ET. Depression "Averted," But Recovery Is Fragile:
The president begins by saying the G-20 leaders have, in the past two years, "worked together to rescue the global economy and avert another depression." But, he adds, the recovery "has been fragile."
Update at 10:38 a.m ET. Starting Shortly?
The White House webcast has gone "live," and it looks like the president is about to come to the microphone.
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET. Still Waiting:
Obviously, things are running late.
In their communique at the conclusion of the summit, the leaders conceded that in the past year:
"Global recovery has weakened, particularly in advanced countries, leaving unemployment at unacceptable levels. In this context, tensions in the financial markets have increased due mostly to sovereign risks in Europe; there are also clear signs of a slowing in growth in the emerging markets. Commodity price swings have put growth at risk. Global imbalances persist."