Doing my usual morning procrastination web surf, I found this analysis of the stock market by Doug Short. The comparisons in the graphic are interesting. As you can see (click on it to enlarge it), the current stock market collapse was steep and deep. The biggest fall was in Sept-Oct of 2008. The current recovery started around February/March. Guess what happened on March 17? The stimulus package. I'm not suggesting that the stimulus money immediately went out into the economy with big effect. What I am suggesting is that the prospect of that money coming out, encouraged optimism among investors and 1) stopped the precipitous drop in stock prices and 2) sparked what looks like the start of a recovery - or at least the expectation of one by investors.
I'm bringing this up because the Republican spokes people are trying to go after Obama because Rahm Emanuel (Obama's chief of staff) said "We rescued the economy." Certainly unemployment is higher than predicted and still high (all of 5 months after the stimulus package passed). But the trend in the stocks looks promising. If the economy as a whole starts to grow, then we'll know they were right.
Now, consider this graphic of the Great Depression. Notice that the recovery did not begin until 1933 (the year FDR took office) after a 4 year free fall during the Hoover administration. Conservative ideologues like to say that the market fixes everything and that government can't do anything but make it worse. But the graphic of GDP growth in the 30s and the graphic comparing the different stock market down turns above, certainly seem to show at least a coincidence between when there is massive, emergency government intervention and when recovery begins. It also makes me shudder at what we'd be facing right now if McCain had won the election. He'd be vetoing stimulus packages and doing exactly what Hoover did - faith based charity drives, bailing out individual banks as they fail on an ad hoc basis, etc. That didn't work during the Hoover administration and I can't think of any reason it would have worked now.