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US/World economic crisis

Obama sees signs of economic hope, Japan's exports slump

Article published on the 2009-03-25 Latest update 2009-03-25 11:31 TU

Obama at the press conference(Photo: Reuters)

Obama at the press conference
(Photo: Reuters)

US President Barack Obama appealed for patience and claimed to see "signs of progress" in the American economy on Tuesday. But on Wednesday the grim international economic news continued, with Japan announcing a record slump in its exports and China raising its estimate of the number of migrant workers unemployed.

Defending his stimulus package at a press conference, Obama said that it is "a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending, and to grow our economy over the long term".

"And we are beginning to see signs of progress,"  he insisted. "We'll recover from this recession, but it will take time. It will take patience."

But, in the rest of the world, the economic misery kept coming on Wednesday:

Japan announced that its exports fell by 49.4 per cent last month from a year earlier, a heavy blow for an export-oriented economy which had its worst performance for almost 35 years in the last quarter of 2008;

  • China's National Bureau of Statistics announced that unemployment among migrant workers, who play a key economic role, is higher than previously estimated, at 25 million rather than 20 million, and admitted that the figure may still be an underestimate.
  • Europe's main stock markets fell at opening, with a 0.64 per cent fall in Paris, following a slump on Wall Street overnight.
  • In Britain HSBC announced that it will axe up to 1,200 workers.
  • Germany's business confidence has fallen to a record low, according to the closely-watched Ifo index.

 

A week before the G20 meeting in London, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced new measures, including a rise in the amount of money available to its 185-member countries, streamlined procedures and took steps to encourage borrowing.

The fund also acknowledged China's proposal for an IMF-based global reserve currency to replace the US dollar, a proposal that Obama rejected.