As constant threats of a European meltdown continue to impede U.S. economic growth, Obama remains fixated on the economic situation.
Obama holds regular, lengthy Oval Office meetings about the crisis with economic aides including Geithner, Treasury international affairs deputy Lael Brainard and National Security Council advisers who pore over possible outcomes in Europe and ways the United States might apply pressure.
"He has gone into great detail regarding every major decision we have made" on the European crisis, one senior aide said. "He brings a level of texture to this that is pretty unusual for a president."
But so far the strategy sessions, in which the president wades deep into the weeds on Spanish bond yields and other economic arcana, have produced little in the way of results. And the reality has begun to set in that Europe will either continue to be a drag on the U.S. economy, depressing markets and business and consumer confidence — or will turn into a flat-out crisis that knocks the president out of office.
"He realizes it's the third year in a row in which the U.S. started to recover pretty well and then got threatened by a European meltdown," said a former senior administration official who asked not to be named in order to speak candidly about private interactions. "He has grown to appreciate that the fear of a European meltdown has really dampened spirits around corporate America and hit investor and consumer sentiment. Starting last year, he became really focused on Europe."