US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expects economic recovery in America next year, but has warned that the biggest risk to an upturn is whether there is sufficient political will to mend the financial system.
In a rare direct message to the US people, Mr Bernanke appeared on prime-time television in a Sunday interview on the CBS 60 Minutes program, saying the recession would continue throughout this year but that 2010 would be a year of recovery.
“We’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year said Bernanke who added that I'd just like to say to the American people ... I have every confidence this economy will recover, and recover in a strong and sustained way.
For its part, the Fed is going to do everything possible to support this recovery, he said. But the recovery is not going to happen until the financial markets and the banks are stabilised.
Bernanke said the world had come very close to financial meltdown last year, before governments stepped in and warned that the biggest risk to recovery would be a lack of political will to solve problems.
Last January before Congress Bernanke said he believed that the recession that took hold at the end of 2007 would end this year.
We'll see recovery beginning next year, he said but added recovery could be put in jeopardy if we don't have the political will.
The US jobless rate jumped to 8.1% in February - the highest rate since December 1983.
Mr Bernanke also made clear his frustration at being put in the position of having to bail out major institutions such as the American International Group.
I slammed the phone more than a few times on discussing AIG, Mr Bernanke said.
I understand why the American people are angry. It's absolutely unfair that taxpayer dollars are going to prop up a company that made these terrible bets.”