World News Brief, Thursday April 16

Barack Obama talks up US economy but newspapers report "continued fragility"; South Korea employment falls further; Thai police go after red-shirt leaders; Russia's Medvedev gives first interview; and more

Top of the Agenda: Assessing the Economy

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed measured optimism yesterday in a speech about the health of the American economy, but newspapers are questioning whether the economic data backs him up. In his address, Obama sought to explain the array of economic policies his administration has implemented. He said some of those policies were starting to bear fruit--echoing comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the economy is no longer in free fall--while also warning that there will likely be more economic pain later this year.

The Washington Post, however, reports that recent economic data clashes with Obama's assessment. Weak retail data in March, the Post reports, "underscore the hard slog the nation faces." The Financial Times points out that stocks fell sharply after the retail data was released and says the figures show the "continued fragility" of the U.S. economy.

In the near term, confidence in the health of the U.S. financial system could depend on the results of the series of "stress tests" the U.S. Treasury has administered at banks. The New York Times reports the administration is planning to reveal the results of the tests in the near future. Whatever the results, the Wall Street Journal reports, the fact of disclosure will importantly give a clearer picture of risk to lenders.


- This Backgrounder outlines the terms of the U.S. Treasury's Financial Stability Plan.

- A new report by CFR's Benn Steil discusses what regulatory lessons policymakers should take from the financial crisis moving forward.


PACIFIC RIM: South Korean Job Losses

The Korea Times reports the South Korean economy shed more jobs in March, falling to its lowest employment levels in ten years.

S.KOREA-N.KOREA: Seoul delayed announcing its participation in a U.S.-led effort to clamp down on trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, following statements from North Korea that Seoul signing onto the agreement would be tantamount to war (Yonhap).

THAILAND: The Bangkok Post reports Thai police are trying to track down the leaders of recent anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok.



Pakistani court releases extremist cleric jailed in 2007.

Dmitry Medvedev's first interview since becoming president.

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