Obama inherits a country no one could have imagined at election time. The scale of the disaster that has overtaken America is so large, the fact that Obama is the first black president will be a historical footnote, argues Paul Harris in The Observer. The catastrophe is best summed up in numbers: Seven trillion dollars has been wiped off the stock market, which has dropped 33 percent, its biggest fall since 1931; 2 million jobs have disappeared, wages are frozen, and millions have lost their homes; the Federal Reserve is printing billions of dollars to keep the economy afloat; banks have been partly nationalized; and the car industry in Detroit is on life support. “Frugalism is taking hold. Consumers are cutting back. Luxury brands are falling by the wayside…A national belt tightening is having an impact on everything from restaurants and books to a collapse in the demand for cosmetic surgery,” he writes. “Obama's job is to address those fears. America is a country desperately looking for a new president who can provide the answers to its problems. But this will be no easy task.” Gulp!