Geithner: Weak housing, unemployment stifle economic recovery
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the nation's economic recovery is still plagued by high unemployment and a weak housing market, but he's confident policy makers will address the nation's current needs by raising the debt ceiling. Geithner made that assertion while speaking at a forum held by The Atlantic magazine Wednesday morning. His comments closely echo those of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on the Budget Wednesday. Bernanke went on the record, stating that the dire state of U.S. housing is keeping a lid on investments in the nation's economic recovery. The Treasury Secretary -- who wrote a letter to Congress earlier in the year requesting a hike in the federal debt limit -- said Wednesday he does not foresee the U.S. defaulting on its debt because he has confidence lawmakers will raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, despite protests from lawmakers who want spending cuts. When Geithner wrote his letter to policy makers in early January, the nation's outstanding debt stood at $13.95 trillion — just $335 billion below the maximum ceiling. Geithner also said Wednesday the most recent jobs report "overstated the strength of the labor market," even though the unemployment rate fell to 9%, according to The Atlantic. Bernanke said the nation is still wanting for jobs even after adding one million positions in 2010, well short of the 8 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009. The Treasury Secretary also reaffirmed his support for U.S. Treasury bills, calling them "the risk-free investment of the world." Write to Kerri Panchuk.