WASHINGTON President Bush sympathized Monday with investors and employees of storied but fallen financial institutions, but said federal policymakers will focus their attention on "the health of the financial system as a whole."
"We are working to reduce disruptions and minimize the impact of these financial market developments on the broader economy," Bush said in the Rose Garden, choosing to address the market turmoil at the top of an appearance with visiting Ghanian President John Kufuor. "The policymakers will focus on the health of the financial system as a whole," Bush said.
His statement seemed to serve notice that the government will not continue to bail out Wall Street, as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch & Co. was forced to sell itself to Bank of America, and the world's largest insurance company plans to announce a major restructuring.
"Adjustments in the financial markets can be painful, both for people concerned about their investments and for the employees of the affected firms," the president said. "But in the long run I am confident that our capital markets are flexible and resilient and can deal with these adjustments."
Bush also said he was pleased with work done so far by the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and major financial institutions to "promote stability" in financial markets shaken by the developments involving Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.
Bush said his advisers at the White House and "throughout my administration" are focused intently on the problems and how to "promote stability in the financial system." He said he was remaining in close touch with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and had been throughout the weekend. Paulson was to join White House officials in discussing the situation with reporters at the White House later Monday.