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The congressional compromise drafted over the weekend to rescue Wall Street, assuming it wins approval, is expected to fend off a potential meltdown of financial markets for now. But it won't cure much of what ails the struggling U.S. economy.
Many economists believe the U.S. economy is in recession, or so close to it that it's almost an academic question. The weekend compromise in Congress doesn't fix that, but it prevents things from getting worse by calming the jittery credit markets, which are vital to the ability of corporate America to fund itself through issuance of short-term debt.
Finance is something that happens in the background, like the fan belt on an automobile's engine, a whirring that goes unnoticed over the sound of the road. Everything runs with the help of these credit markets, and when they stop working, as they did on Sept. 17, it gets attention quickly.
"People watch the stock market, but that is not the key here. The credit markets are the key," said David Wyss, chief economist for the rating agency Standard & Poors in New York.