WASHINGTON (AP) -- President George W. Bush, closing an emergency economic summit, said Saturday that decisive action had been required in recent weeks to save the United States from possibly falling into "a depression greater than the Great Depression."
He raised the dire picture, in stronger terms than he had previously used, as he defended his administration's bailout of banks, investment companies, insurance firms and others.
"Those of you who have followed my career know that I'm a free-market person," Bush said.
He said it was therefore hard for him to take steps that intervened in that free market. But he suggested he had no choice because the outlook was so bleak.
Lest those actions be taken as a change of heart, he restated his principles in regard to fixing the problems of the global economy:
"Whatever we do, whatever reforms are recommended, we need to be guided by this simple fact: that the best way to solve our problems and solve the people's problems is for there to be economic growth. And the surest path to that growth is free-market capitalism."
He said Saturday's agreement by leaders of the world's top economies to modernize financial regulation and cooperate more fully will help keep the global financial meltdown from getting worse.
"Our economies are being hit very hard," Bush said, a statement that applies especially to his own country.
He said that the leaders had made great strides at the session toward "adapting our financial systems to the realities of the 21st century."
Bush said the countries would also take "a fresh look at rules that govern market manipulation and fraud."
Bush said that "significant measures" already taken by the U.S. government, which include a $700 billion financial bailout, had begun to loosen the credit freeze.
The group agreed to meet again after Barack Obama takes office on Jan. 20.
"President-elect Obama's transition team has been fully briefed on what we intended to do here at this meeting," Bush said.
He told the international press corps, which followed the foreign presidents and prime ministers to the summit, that he had made clear to the leaders the U.S. transition would be "seamless."
"And I hope it was good for them to hear, that even though we're from different political parties, that I believe it's in our country's interest that he succeed."
Bush told the reporters with a smile, "So I want to thank you for giving me a chance to come and visit with you. Thanks for covering this summit. Goodbye."