It will take time for the Wall Street bail-out bill to be put into place and confidence to return to financial markets, US President George W Bush said Monday.
Speaking as stock markets worldwide went into freefall, Bush -- who met small business owners in San Antonio hard-hit by the credit crunch -- recalled that the 700 billion dollar package that cleared Congress on Friday is meant to thaw credit markets.
"It's going to take a while to get in place -- a program that, one, is effective and, two, doesn't waste taxpayers' money," he said. "We don't want to rush into this situation and not have the program be effective."
Bush added: "It's going to take a while to restore confidence in the financial system -- but one thing people can be certain of is that the bill I signed is a big step toward solving this problem."
He said his chat with the proprietors of a San Antonio car dealership, an auto repair shop and two restaurants was "very illuminating."
"It's clear they're dealing with the effects of a credit crunch," he said. "They're having trouble getting money to be able to continue to expand their business or money to help their consumers be able to buy their products."
Bush, speaking outside San Antoino's venerable Olmos pharmacy and lunch counter, acknowledged the perception among many Americans that their tax dollars are being hijacked to bail out profligate Wall Street money barons.
"A lot of the people here in Texas and around the country aren't pleased with the government having to take the steps they took," he said.
"Their question is, 'I pay my bills, I pay my mortgage, why are you helping Wall Street?"
"The answer is because, had we not done anything, people like the folks behind me would be a lot worse off," he said, referring to the local entrepreneurs.
"We'll make sure that as time goes on, this doesn't happen again. In the meantime, we've got to solve the problem -- and that's why people sent me to Washington, DC. When you see a problem, put a team together and solve it."