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Jul 27, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Economy hits Obama’s poll numbers


It’s still “the economy, stupid.”

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan, famously pinned up on the wall of their Little Rock headquarters by James Carville, never seemed more appropriate than it does today.

Our first Reuters/IPSOS national poll dramatically illustrates how the parlous state of the economy is undermining confidence in President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues ahead of November’s mid-term elections.

Jul 26, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra


In many ways the documents released by WikiLeaks last night merely underscored the bleak assessment of the Afghan war which General Stanley McChrystal issued last August.

At the time McChrystal warned the overall situation was “deteriorating”, complained of “under-resourcing” and called for not just more resources but a “fundamentally new approach” from NATO forces if failure were to be avoided.

Jul 25, 2010

Portsmouth end nightmare tour with drubbing in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With scarcely any sleep, in sweltering heat and after losing their kit, Portsmouth ended a farcical North American pre-season tour on Saturday with a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Major League Soccer’s DC United.

Relegated from the Premiership, in administration and placed under a transfer embargo by England’s soccer authorities, Portsmouth could scarcely field a team during their week-long tour of the United States and Canada, relying heavily on youngsters with little or no first-team experience.

Jul 14, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Obama seeks help, Clinton (Bill) to the rescue?


In the latest twist in the Obama-Clinton family drama, the current president has enlisted the past president to help shore up sagging confidence in his economic leadership and repair his tattered relationship with business. 

Barack Obama has asked Clinton to come to his meeting with business leaders today to discuss job creation and investment. That is a day after he also enlisted the help of long-time Clintonista Jack Lew to be his budget director after he presided over surpluses during Bill’s tenure.

May 11, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

The coming conflict with China


2008 was the last presidential election when voters didn’t know or care about the candidates views on China, argues political risk analyst Ian Bremmer.

Bremmer’s new book “The End of the Free Market” argues that the Chinese economic model — which he calls state capitalism — is so fundamentally different from Western free market capitalism that tensions and economic conflict are inevitable in the years ahead.

Dec 2, 2009

SNAP ANALYSIS: Obama’s Afghan plan vague

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has finally decided to back his military’s request for more troops for Afghanistan but critics are certain to argue his strategy lacks a convincing civilian and political dimension.

* When General Stanley McChrystal set out his assessment of the Afghan conflict in August, he argued that focusing on force alone “misses the point entirely.”

Nov 11, 2009

Obama warns strains unless U.S., China balance growth

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sees China as a vital partner and competitor, but the two countries need to address economic imbalances or risk “enormous strains” on their relationship, President Barack Obama said on Monday.

Three days before leaving on a nine-day trip to Asia, Obama said the world’s two most powerful nations need to work together on the big issues facing the globe, and any competition between them has to be fair and friendly.

Nov 11, 2009

WITNESS: Face to face with America’s “rock star” president

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – We were led through a door that is usually forbiddingly closed, past a clutch of burly Secret Service agents, around a corner, and there he was, in a corridor leading to the Oval Office.

Barack Obama, America’s “rock star” president, greeted us with a smile and a handshake.

Nov 10, 2009

Obama: strains unless US,China balance growth

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – The United States sees China as a vital partner and competitor, but the two countries need to address economic imbalances or risk "enormous strains" on their relationship, President Barack Obama said on Monday.

Three days before leaving on a nine-day trip to Asia, Obama said the world’s two most powerful nations need to work together on the big issues facing the globe, and any competition between them has to be fair and friendly.

"On critical issues, whether climate change, economic recovery, nuclear nonproliferation, it is very hard to see how we succeed or China succeeds in our respective goals, without working together," he told Reuters in an interview.

Speaking in the Oval Office, he warned that the economic relationship between the two countries had become "deeply imbalanced" in recent decades, with a yawning trade gap and huge Chinese holdings of U.S. government debt.

Obama said he would be raising with Chinese leaders the sensitive issue of their yuan currency — which is seen by U.S. industry as significantly undervalued — as one factor contributing to the imbalances.

"As we emerge from an emergency situation, a crisis situation, I believe China will be increasingly interested in finding a model that is sustainable over the long term," he said. "They have a huge amount of U.S. dollars that they are holding, so our success is important to them."

"The flipside of that is that if we don’t solve some of these problems, then I think both economically and politically it will put enormous strains on the relationship."

Excessive consumption and borrowing in the United States and aggressive export policies, high savings and lending from Asia fueled a global economic bubble which burst last year.

The United States is trying to persuade China to consume more at home, and to buy more U.S. goods in the process, while Washington pledges to save more and borrow less.

Leaders of the Group of 20 major rich and emerging economies pledged at a summit in Pittsburgh in September to aim for policies to ease economic imbalances. Obama said one of the goals of his trip was to build on that agreement.


The Obama administration has resisted domestic pressure to brand China a currency manipulator, but has slapped tariffs on Chinese tires, steel pipes and other products.

Obama said he would be telling Beijing it needed to do more to open its markets.

"Our manufacturers, I think, would have legitimate concerns about our ability to sell into China," he said, emphasizing that boosting U.S. sales oversees was a crucial part of his strategy to revitalize the economy and create jobs.

Obama took office in January when the U.S. economy was mired deep in recession. Although there have been mounting signs of economic recovery, unemployment is stubbornly high. The U.S. jobless rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest rate in 26 years.

"It is particularly important for us when it comes to Asia as a whole to recognize that in the absence of a more robust export strategy it is going to be hard for us to rebuild our manufacturing base and employment base in this country," Obama said in the 21-minute interview.


Obama said addressing climate change would also be a key part of the talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, and added the world’s two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide needed to find common ground if global talks on the issue in Copenhagen in December are to succeed.

The key, he said, was for the U.S. and China to reach a framework agreement other nations could buy into.

"I remain optimistic that between now and Copenhagen that we can arrive at that framework," he said, adding he would travel to Denmark next month if he felt there was a chance of progress.

"If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that’s something that I will do," Obama said.

Obama will be visiting China for the first time. But the trip will mark his third bilateral meeting with China’s President Hu.

The Obama administration has sought to build on a policy begun in the Bush administration of encouraging Beijing to take on a higher-profile role in global affairs.

But in turn the United States expects China to use its clout responsibly on issues from the global economy to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear disputes.

One of the clearest signals of the administration’s desire to give China and other large, fast-growing economies a bigger role was the decision — adopted at the Pittsburgh G20 summit — to make the G20 the premier forum for discussing global economic issues.


A Thomson Reuters/Ipsos poll published last week showed that while Americans view China as important, many are wary.

Thirty-four percent of Americans chose China as the "most important bilateral relationship" — ahead of Britain and Canada. Yet when asked to characterize China, 56 percent saw it as an adversary while only 33 viewed it as an ally.

"I see China as a vital partner, as well as a competitor," Obama said.

"The key is for us to make sure that that competition is friendly, and it’s competition for customers and markets, it’s within the bounds of well-defined international rules of the road that both China and the United States are party to but also that together we are encouraging responsible behavior around the world."

Obama has been accused by some of soft-pedaling on China’s human rights record, criticism he rejected.

"We believe in the values of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, that are not just core American values but we believe are universal values," he said.

"And there has not been a meeting with the Chinese delegation in which we did not bring these issues up. That will continue."

Obama’s Asia trip will take him to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.

(Editing by Frances Kerry)

Nov 10, 2009

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

Toward the end of his first term, his predecessor George W. Bush famously said in answer to a question that he could not think of any mistakes he had made — a comment which long dogged him as the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to chaos in Iraq.

    • About Simon

      "Simon is Washington Bureau Chief for Reuters and author of the Reuters Washington Extra newsletter and blog, a daily look at political and economic news from the capital. He has 18 years experience covering politics, economics and financial markets for Reuters for text and television all over the world, including in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Before arriving in Washington, he spent seven years as Reuters bureau chief in Pakistan, Afghanistan and then India, and is the editor of Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia, which was published by Penguin India in 2008 and ..."
      Joined Reuters:
      French, Spanish
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      Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia
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