The next president will decide whether the shift away from laissez faire is permanent.
Washington and New York
With its sudden and sweeping plan to pump $250 billion directly into America's banking system, a Republican administration in essence may have opted for a New New Deal, intervening in private markets to an extent not seen since the days of the Great Depression.
The world financial system remains so fragile that a free-market-oriented White House felt it had no choice but to resort to this partial nationalization. Now the actions of the next administration will determine whether the move is temporary or a turning point in the US government's attitude toward laissez-faire economics.
The move was the latest, and the biggest, in a long series of rescue attempts taken by the administration and the US Federal Reserve over the last several weeks in the wake of extreme stock market volatility and frozen credit markets.
President Bush announced the new plan in televised remarks before the opening of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. He and his economic team described the bank intervention as something intended to preserve the free market, not bury it.