Somehow over the past week, we've taken the edge off the desperation in the markets and economy.
Let me be clear: there is a lot of work to do and many difficult months ahead. I'm not ready to say confidence has returned, but certainly the gloom is not so thick.
Why? A more unified message is emerging (either by accident or by design) that yes, there IS a road to recovery and yes, we are trying to get on it.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, sat down with 60 Minutes because, he said, he wanted to speak directly to the American people. His message? The Fed is doing everything possible to support the economy. A recovery doesn't happen until the banks are stabilized. There is a plan for that but it will take time and patience.
"I'd just like to say to the American people is that I have every confidence that this economy will recover, and recover in a strong and sustained way," he said.
An interview with a sitting Fed chief is unprecedented. Why did he do it? He said these are “extraordinary” times and he wanted to speak directly to the American people.
Bernanke said a recovery could begin to gel late this year and into next year. Again, IF we get the financial system stabilized. He made a promise not to repeat the mistakes that led to the Great Depression - namely, letting the banks fail. He pledged to support the banking system and "wind down" failing banks in a responsible way. (For all those of you out there screaming about dumping money into the very banks that made these bad bets and put the global economy at risk – the administration and the Fed are clear that they will not let a big bank go down. Period.)
In less than a week, the Treasury Secretary sat down with Charlie Rose, there were appearances by advisers Larry Summers, Paul Volcker, and Christina Romer. The G20 finance ministers vowed this weekend to do "whatever it takes" to fix the financial system and put the global economy on the road to recovery.
What we really need now - the specifics on the Obama administration's plan to mop the toxic assets off the banks books. Still waiting for that critical piece of the story.