Obama urges swift passage of recovery package; details of what's in the proposed package; Israelis go the the polls; China fears deflation; political violence in Madagascar; and more
TOP OF THE AGENDA: A Pitch for Stimulus
President Barack Obama used the first prime-time news conference of his presidency on Monday to urge swift passage (NYT) of an $800 billion economic recovery package, warning that a failure to act by Congress "could turn a crisis into a catastrophe." Comparing the economic downturn to Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990s (FT), the president said the federal government was "the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life."
A Senate vote on the measure is expected Tuesday; lawmakers in the chamber voted late Monday to end debate on the $838 billion measure and move to a vote (USA Today). A House version of the legislation was approved in January without a single Republican. Reuters offers a rundown of what must happen next for the bill to reach the president's desk.
The prime-time push by President Obama came amid signs that a new bank bailout plan was making its way to fruition. The New York Times reports Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, after considerable internal debate, has won approval for a plan to create a joint Treasury and Federal Reserve program, costing as much as $500 billion, to encourage investors to purchase soured mortgage-related assets from banks.
- A BBC Q&A explains why such a massive economic stimulus is being proposed, and how the measure is being debated in Congress.
- This new Backgrounder details key aspects of the stimulus bill.
- This CFR.org interactive timeline details how the financial crisis of 2007-2008 unfolded.
- CFR Senior Fellow Benn Steil takes a critical look at economists invoking the authority of Keynes in support of adding another trillion dollars to the federal debt.
PACIFIC RIM: Australians on High Alert
Dozens of southern Australian towns remained on high-alert for possible flare-ups of the devastating fires that killed as many 181 over the weekend, the worst in the country's history (The Australian). Officials expect the death toll to climb as recovery efforts continue (AP). Arson is expected in some of the more than 400 blazes that have consumed hundreds of homes and left thousands homeless; a 100-strong police force has been established to hunt down perpetrators to the suspected arsons (BBC).
Taiwan: A former Taiwanese first lady has pled guilty to money laundering and forgery in connection to a land purchase deal, the BBC reports.
China: China's consumer prices grew at their slowest pace in thirty years in January, raising mounting fears of deflation (FT).