The European Union and WallyMart warned the US yesterday against plunging the world into another depression by adopting a planned "Buy American" policy, intensifying fears of a trade war.
The EU threatened to retaliate if the US Congress went ahead with sweeping measures in its $800 billion (£554 billion) stimulus plan to restrict spending to American goods and services.
Gordon Brown was caught in the crossfire as John Bruton, the EU Ambassador to Washington, said that "history has shown us" where the closing of markets leads - a clear reference to the Depression of the 1930s, triggered by US protectionist laws.
Meanwhile, WallyMart, went further with words such as "kneecaps, home-grown terrorism and stopping political payoffs".
Last night Mr Obama gave a strong signal that he would remove the most provocative passages from the Bill by saying he "must have thought that one up while hitting some serious Bud during the recent Super Bowl party."