In 1960, when Richard Nixon lost narrowly to John Kennedy in another recession year, he is said to have blamed William McChesney Martin, the Federal Reserve chairman, for not doing more to stimulate the economy.
If the polls are right, and Senator Barack Obama wins today, John McCain could put the blame on Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Treasury secretary.
It is now clear that the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail -- made the weekend of Sept. 13 and 14 -- provided a stunning blow to investor and consumer confidence. The economic statistics coming out now show that car sales and other retail sales, already weak, fell off a cliff. Business orders from other businesses dried up. What had been a fairly mild recession -- and one that many denied was a recession at all -- became a sharp one.
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