President Obama was snapped back into theÂ reality of dealing with a fragile economic recovery today as stocks plunged inÂ the wake of his re-election and the labor department announced that job openingsÂ dropped to a five-month low.
The Dow Jones industrial average plummetedÂ 200 points within minutes after the opening bell and it continued falling, downÂ 354 points two hours later. In late afternoon trading, it was down 323 points,Â or 2.5 percent, while index futures alsoÂ plunged after the European Union slashed its growth forecast for nextÂ year.
Meanwhile, the dollar rose and the LaborÂ Department announced that the number of job openings waiting to be filledÂ declined by 100,000 to 3.56 million from the prior month. The figures show thatÂ the October jump in private payrolls, which was the biggest in eight months, mayÂ be difficult to sustain.
Mere hours after the jubilation ofÂ winning aÂ hard-fought campaign against Republican challenger MittÂ Romney, Obama must nowÂ face the headaches of the so-called ‘fiscalÂ cliff’ of $607 billion in taxÂ increases and spending cuts, highÂ unemployment and uncertain economic growth.
As he approaches the challenges ahead,Â voters will be holding him to his acceptance speech promise that ‘theÂ bestÂ days are yet to come.’
Obama returns now to a still-bitterly dividedÂ Congress in Washington, which must come to a deficit reduction agreement withinÂ the next 54 days to avoid the fiscal cliff’s debilitating mixture of tax increasesÂ and spending cuts.
If Congress fails to act, the U.S. economyÂ would contract sharply, potentially sending the nation into a second recessionÂ that could spread globally.
Businesses are already slowing hiring andÂ holding back from making new investments in preparation for theÂ possibilityÂ that Congress fails to overcome its division.
With the weight of the nation’s economy onÂ his shoulders, President ObamaÂ stressed the need for bipartisanship in hisÂ acceptance speech lastÂ night.
‘In the comingÂ weeks and months, I amÂ looking forward to reaching out and working withÂ leaders of both parties toÂ meet the challenges we can only solveÂ together,’ Obama said. ‘I believe we canÂ seize this future togetherÂ because we are not as divided as our politicsÂ suggests.’