U.S. Stimulus Bill

President Barack Obama signs the economic stimulus bill on February 17 in Denver, CO. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

SOUTH AFRICA — Business Report, (Feb. 11): The much awaited financial sector package announced by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner lacked detail and failed to restore confidence in the U.S. banking system. … [The plan] included a private-public investment company that would buy up to $2 trillion in "troubled assets" (more commonly known as toxic assets). … Jan Lambregts, head of Asian research at Rabobank, said that uncertainty about the effect of U.S. plans to put its economy back on track should keep markets jittery over the next few weeks at least, with moderately negative consequences for the euro and positive ones for the yen.

SAUDI ARABIA — Arab News, (Feb. 14): The Saudi stock market remained volatile last week, led by the petrochemical, banking and telecom sectors. The Tadawul All-Share Index (T.A.S.I.) gained 1.11 percent last week, closing at 4,847.62 points. The Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (B.I.G.) expected the attention of investors to focus in the coming week on the performance of U.S. and other global stocks and their reaction to the U.S. stimulus plan. "In case the reactions turn out to be negative, the impact will put down pressure on oil prices and consequently on the Saudi stock market," the B.I.G. weekly report said. … Arab stock markets are expected to be "relatively stable" in the coming few weeks, financial analysts said yesterday.

CHINA — China View, (Feb. 18): Increased borrowing by the United States to fund its massive stimulus package could cause the depreciation of U.S. dollar-denominated assets, Chinese economists have told [news agency] Xinhua. Being the largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, China had reason to be concerned about that possible depreciation, the economists said. The $787 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is designed to jolt the ailing U.S. economy by providing government spending and tax cuts for both individuals and businesses. U.S. President Barack Obama signed it into law Tuesday. … According to the IMF, whose forecast is one of the more optimistic, the U.S. economic downturn would end late in 2009. The World Bank doesn't see a rebound until 2010.

AUSTRALIA — The Sydney Morning Herald, (Feb. 14): The economic stimulus bill that the U.S. Congress has just passed runs to 1,400 pages — which, as one American wag pointed out, is about the size of the collected works of William Shakespeare. … [Obama] said that he would not accept "earmarks," the quaintly euphemistic term for the outrageous chunks of pork that members of Congress love to slip between the pages of every bill that crosses their desks. … The president can try to persuade Congress, and he can veto bills that it produces, but he cannot control it. Congress, for a president and also for taxpayers, is a giant casino. And you know what happens to money in casinos.

UNITED KINGDOM — The Daily Telegraph, (Feb. 10): U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has admitted America's original bank bail-out was "inadequate," as he set out a revamped plan to provide more than $2 trillion to stabilize ailing financial institutions and revive lending. … The program will be known as the "Financial Stability Plan" — ditching the T.A.R.P. (Troubled Assets Relief Program) moniker — and Mr. Geithner said that it would be monitored closely and reviewed regularly to ensure it is working. … Although his much-awaited speech was somewhat limited in details of his plans to tackle the problems in the housing market, Mr. Geithner did say that $50 billion of the original $700 billion bailout fund would be spent on home foreclosure relief.

JAPAN — The Asahi Shimbun, (Feb. 6): [U.S.] Legislators added a "buy American" provision to an economic stimulus bill worth more than $800 billion (about 72 trillion yen) to finance measures to revitalize the sinking U.S. economy. … The proposal has triggered a ruckus among U.S. trade partners. The European Commission said it will not "stand idly by and ignore" it if the controversial measure is enacted. … Among Japanese officials, trade minister Toshihiro Nikai urged Washington to drop the provision during an unofficial ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization held last weekend. Nikai said the measure is totally at odds with the pledge to prevent protectionism made by leaders of the Group of 20 leading economies in the joint statement issued at their meeting in Washington last November.

PHILIPPINES — The Manila Times, (Feb. 13): U.S. lawmakers faced final votes on a plan to pump $789 billion into the sputtering U.S. economy on Thursday, promising President Barack Obama a major victory by week's end. … Republicans charged that the final deal was the result of secret talks among House and Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans, and pushed for a 48-hour delay during which the U.S. public could consult the fine print online. … Obama, meanwhile, pursued an aggressive political and public relations blitz to win support from wavering lawmakers, trekking to a construction site in northern Virginia to tout what he called his "urgent" and "essential" plan.

Viewpoints articles are comprised of items drawn from the international media.