President Obama was in the Oval Office, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on Capitol Hill, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was briefing reporters when the stock market took its bizarre and terrifying plunge Thursday.
Geithner, who has a "Bloomberg box" on his Blackberry -- providing real-time stock information -- was surprised to see what was going on. While the Greek debt crisis is creating a "backdrop of fear," one senior administration official told ABC News, this was altogether something else.
President Obama too was very concerned. Within minutes Geithner and Larry Summers, director of the president's National Economic Council, had been summoned to the Oval Office to brief the president. They continued to do so throughout the day.
The Obama administration has long been concerned about the Greek debt crisis, officials say, specifically that the European Union has not acted quickly or boldly enough.
"The crisis in itself is managable," an official says. "But they've taken their time."
Geithner will talk to his counterparts in Europe later today when he holds a conference call with G-7 nations. President Obama may talk to some European leaders later today as well.