Jewish World Review March 11, 2003 / 7 Adar II, 5763
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, you had to be impressed by President Bush Thursday evening. He was straightforward, measured and direct. The president made it clear he has set us on a course that will resolve uncertainty and, in my opinion, restore confidence.
The day after his almost hour-long news conference, investors were confronted by news of higher unemployment, higher oil prices, lower targets for Intel and conflicting reports about the capture of Osama bin Laden's sons, yet the markets did not plummet. And I think the president deserves considerable credit for that stability.
We've all become acquainted with the concept of visibility. After the telecom and technology bubble burst and after the corporate corruption scandal that started with Enron, CEOs constantly blamed a lack of visibility and an abundance of uncertainty for their inability to forecast earnings or make predictions of revenue.
As a result, businesses and investors have been unwilling to put their money to work. But I think all of that's about to change. We've gone through a remarkable period of uncertainty in this country. But it is hardly the first such period in our recent history.
A close historical parallel is from 1948 to 1951 - a period marked by the Berlin Airlift, when the United States and other Allies flew supplies into West Berlin in response to the Soviet blockade of the city, followed a year later by the first successful Atomic bomb tests by the Soviet Union, and then a year later by the start of the Korean War.
President Harry Truman held the White House and, in an interesting political parallel to today, he grappled with an economy in recession during his first year in office.
Confronted by the Soviet Union, the competing ideology of Marxist-Leninism and the destructive force of nuclear weapons, the Cold War was in its earliest days and America had entered a period of anxiousness and uncertainty. But uncertainty and anxiousness did not diminish American confidence, as it has in our current troublesome period.
In fact, history shows that our economy and our markets show remarkable resilience in the face of geopolitical threat and uncertainty. Two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 24 percent. Two years after the Berlin Airlift, the Dow had gained 14 percent. Two years after the announcement that the former U.S.S.R. tested its A-bomb, igniting the nuclear arms race, the Dow had climbed 51 percent. And two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Dow had surged 57 percent.
As the president said Thursday, "The price of doing nothing exceeds the price of taking action if we have to. ... The price of the attacks on America, the cost of the attacks on America on September 11th were enormous. They were significant. And I am not willing to take that chance again."
President Bush left no doubts where he stands and what is needed to bring resolution to the situation with Iraq. With that resolution will come not only diminished uncertainty, but a broadening of national confidence.
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