World News Brief, Wednesday October 22

US Fed and White House considering $150b stimulus package; stock markets have an up day; Thaksin sentenced to two years in Thai prison; Chinese president backs anti-corruption efforts; Palestinian factions talk; and more

Top of the Agenda: Bernanke Signals Stimulus Support

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress that consideration of a new fiscal stimulus package "seems appropriate" (FT). White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said President Bush is "open to the idea," which has been floated by congressional Democrats alongside a broader economic recovery plan valued at $150 billion. News reports said Bernanke's remarks appeared to embolden the Democratic leadership in Congress, with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi repeating her call for a new program of economic reforms. Bernanke added, however, that any reforms should be specifically targeted (WSJ) at freeing up credit markets, and Perino said Bush remains skeptical of some spending measures recommended in the Democratic plan.

Meanwhile, global stock markets rose (Reuters) again today on signs that credit markets might be beginning to thaw following government efforts to push down short-term lending rates. Gains across Asia were followed by limited gains (Bloomberg) in early trading in Europe.

In a further move to bolster the banking system and free up credit, the U.S. Treasury has announced it will seek to direct some of its $250 billion rescue package to banks that are willing to buy weaker rivals (NYT).


Pacific Rim: Former Thai PM Sentenced

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. The Bangkok Post reports the move could spark further unrest between supporters of Thaksin's party, which is still in power, and those of the opposition.

CHINA: President Hu Jintao threw his weight behind a plan aimed at overhauling governance and anti-corruption (Xinhua) efforts in China.



Egypt invites Palestinian leaders for unity talks.
Sarkozy calls for eurozone "economic government."

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