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KAI RYSSDAL: It wasn't only the European Central Bank that let extra capital into the markets. The Federal Reserve followed suit — an extra $24 billion to grease the wheels. The Treasury Department came out this afternoon and said it's monitoring the markets, too.
Over at the White House President Bush held a press conference this morning. The first question wasn't Iraq or the war on terror. He was asked about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. And whether he'd support higher gas taxes to fix the infrastructure. Maybe a nickel a gallon? He didn't exactly say no but he didn't leave much doubt about the answer, either.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, it's an interesting question about how Congress spends and prioritizes highway money. My suggestion would be that they revist the process by which they spend gasoline money in the first place.
It was, on balance, a pretty economics-heavy session. On the topic of most interest to Wall Street — the credit crisis coming out of the housing market — the president was asked about remarks he made yesterday.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I talked about the different scenarios that I had been briefed on, about whether or not there'd be precipitous decline in housing or whether it would be what one would call a soft landing. And it appeared at this point in time that it looks we're headed for a soft landing. And that's what the facts say.
It's tough to say for sure if the president knew where the markets were as he was speaking. The Dow was off about 150 points at the time. But he also got a question about the news of the day out of France, and what effect it was having on Wall Street.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Another factor one that's gotta look at is the amount of liquidity in the system. . . . Is there enough liquidity to enable markets to correct. And I am told there is enough liquidity in the system to enable markets to correct.
And correct those markets did today. Down almost 3 percent each on the Dow and the S&P. More than 2 percent on the Nasdaq. We'll have more on the subprime mess coming up in just a minute. And details from the markets when we do the numbers.
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