March 12, 2009 / 5:25 AM / 10 years ago

Obama, Geithner get low grades from economists: report

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the world’s largest economy, according to participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner delivers testimony before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A majority of the 49 economists polled said they were dissatisfied with the administration’s economic policies, according to the paper, a stark contrast to Obama’s popularity ratings with the general public.

On average, the economists gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42 percent of respondents rated Obama below 60, the paper said.

Geithner received an average grade of 51, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71, the paper said.

On average, the economists now expect the economic downturn to end in October, according to the paper. In the previous survey, they had expected the bottom would arrive in August.

The economists’ main criticism of the Obama team centered on delays in enacting key parts of plans to rescue banks, the paper said.

The economists’ negative ratings mark a turnaround in opinion, the paper said. In December, before Obama took office, three-quarters of respondents said the incoming administration’s economic team was better than the departing team under former President George W. Bush.

Geithner’s latest marks are lower than the average grade of 57 that former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson received in January, the paper said.

“We have taken an unprecedented level of action toward economic recovery, accomplishing in weeks what took other countries years to do,” the paper cited Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker as saying.

“While Wall Street and investors were disappointed when they didn’t get a sweeping bank bailout, we’ve laid out a plan to stabilize the financial system while protecting the taxpayer and ensuring government funds are spent wisely,” Baker said, according to the paper.

“This crisis was years in the making, and it will take time to solve.”

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Coghill

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