The U.S. economy's biggest crisis since the Great Depression has some economists concerned that a psychology of fear has gripped investors, not only in the United States, but also in Europe and Asia.  As VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington, the steep economic downturn is threatening the confidence of everyday people.

It was a beautiful, sunny day as tourists strolled around the White House here in Washington taking pictures and trying not to worry about the financial turmoil in the markets.

Fifty eight-year-old Reid Collier says he has already lost a significant amount of the money he saved for retirement.

"I have probably lost 30 to 35 percent on most of my retirement accounts that are invested in various market instruments," said Reid Collier. " Like I said I am a little concerned.  It is very disheartening if you look at it everyday so I just try not to do that."

"The American people are concerned about the situation in our financial markets and our economy and I share their concerns," said President Bush.

Just a short distance away President Bush held an emergency meeting with his financial advisors at the White House and came outside to reassure the public.

"The American people can be sure we will continue to act to strengthen and stabilize our financial markets and improve investor confidence," said Mr. Bush.

The world's major banks, led by the U.S. Federal Reserve, pumped billions of dollars into the banking system in an urgent effort to stop further turmoil.

Still as workers in New York's financial industry lost their jobs and cleared out their workspaces many expressed fear about the future.

"I think it's very overwhelming," said one of them. "I think that the climate is just extremely, it's scary. People are nervous about their finances. At the end of the day, it's very nerve wracking."

Many investors rushed to buy commodities like gold or super safe Treasury bills, which yielded their lowest return since World War II.

Investors like Denise Raulins are worried about the future.

"I think it's going to get worse, even worse, before it gets better," said Denise Raulins. "I am hoping, I am going to be optimistic that it's going to get better. But the way things are going now, no time soon."

Financial analysts say the United States has now entered a time of tight credit, which could have a widespread impact on everything from college loans to retirement plans.