Obama, Bernanke and economic team huddle amid market turmoil

President Obama and his economic team met Wednesday with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as volatility continued to haunt the markets.

Obama, Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council Chairman Gene Sperling and White House chief of staff Bill Daley huddled in the Oval Office to discuss the economy and global recovery, the White House said in a statement.

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The president and the chairman discussed the outlook for the recovery and for jobs as well as fiscal issues, including the need to tackle long-term deficit reduction, according to a readout of the meeting provided by the White House.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Wednesday down 520 points, shedding all its gains from Tuesday, and then some.

Continued reaction to Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the U.S. AAA credit rating to AA+ and concern over Europe’s debt crisis — which now is threatening France’s top credit rating and its banks — all contributed to the downward slide. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 stock indices both also ended the day sharply down, each falling more than 4 percent.

Obama and Bernanke, in their third meeting this year, did discuss the critical economic situation in Europe.

Obama’s meeting with Bernanke comes one day after the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee announced it expected to keep a key interest rate near zero through the presidential election and into mid-2013.

Earlier in the day, in announcing the meeting, White House officials described Obama’s sit-down with Bernanke as a regular, periodic meeting the president has with the chairman. Obama also meets with Geithner roughly once a week.

Obama’s meeting with Geithner was scheduled for Tuesday but rescheduled when the president traveled to Dover Air Force Base, Del., to greet the remains of U.S. special forces killed in Saturday in Afghanistan.

-- Peter Schroeder contributed