World News Brief, Thursday February 18

American stimulus one year on – salvation or waste of billions?; Japan becomes largest holder of US debt as China bails; Kim Jong-Il's birthday celebrations; Tensions growing around Falkland Is.; and more

TOP OF THE AGENDA: One Year of US Stimulus

On the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package entering into force, the measure's impact on lifting the United States out of a severe recession remains hotly contested. About one-third of the money has been spent so far, a large part of it directed at preserving social services and government jobs and providing tax cuts for workers. Spending in the year ahead will shift to accelerating the pace of infrastructure projects and continue to spur debate over job creation, reports the Wall Street Journal.

A White House report to be released today says the spending and tax cuts provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "halted an economic freefall," according to excerpts provided by Reuters. An unemployment rate just below 10 percent has continued to feed criticism from Republican lawmakers--nearly all of whom voted against the stimulus--and doubt among Americans about the effectiveness of the package. On the eve of the stimulus anniversary, President Obama highlighted what he called "the largest investment in clean energy history" (Bloomberg) and pointed to a new $8.3 billion loan guarantee aimed at the expansion of nuclear energy production.

NPR offers three vignettes to show the impact of the stimulus--on a physician assistant, a youth outreach program, and a wind turbine plant.


This new CFR Backgrounder examines the purpose and scope of the stimulus and looks at other efforts globally to boost economic recovery.


PACIFIC RIM: China Sheds US Debt Holdings

Japan surpassed China as the largest holder of U.S. debt in December, as China shed more than $30 billion in U.S. Treasury securities. China's move could mean the United States will have to increasingly look to other countries to finance its debt, reports the Financial Times.

North Korea: North Korea celebrated (Reuters) ailing 68-year-old leader Kim Jong-Il's birthday amidst unusual public anger about a worsening economy due to a botched currency revaluation late last year.



Russia Warns Iran on Nuclear Program
Falklands Oil Row Grows


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