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Why America Can't Save Asia

Author: Brian P. Klein, Former International Affairs Fellow in Japan, Sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd.
February 17, 2009
Far Eastern Economic Review


The U.S. Congress has finally passed a much anticipated stimulus bill for $787 billion. While desperately needed, it is unlikely to lift America or Asia out of the rapidly deteriorating economic crisis anytime soon. Government efforts at this stage are still focused on stopping the hemorrhaging rather than reviving the patient.

Wishful thinking aside, the wild ride of export-led growth is over and Asian countries need to start taking serious action to shore up their own economic futures while the U.S. slogs through its domestic-induced crisis which is likely to take years to repair.

Despite the disappointment, a notable success was the speed with which the legislation was passed, flaws and all. Less than a month into office U.S. President Barack Obama carried out a major piece of legislative heavy lifting that is a critical first step in repairing the economy. Taking quick action is clearly a lessoned learned from previous crises.

The stimulus plan went through the typical partisan political washing cycle coming out the other end shrunk and wrinkled. Despite best intentions the core purpose of the bill was lost somewhere in all the zeros of hundreds of billions of dollars--namely to get people working again.

President Obama's early call for bipartisanship went unheeded by the Republican minority, which despite their poor showing in 2008 elections remain a potent political force. The vote fell almost entirely down party lines.


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