Today's Papers

Dousing the Flames

President Clinton’s speech on the global economy leads all around. Lovey-dovey Bill-and-Hillary pix grace the tops at the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. A lovey-dovey shot of Homeric rivals Sosa and McGwire does the same at USA Today. At the New York Times, the spot goes to a shot of a post-speech Clinton at a fund-raiser, amid the cast of “The Lion King.”

USAT, the WP and NYT report that Clinton, in his speech in New York City to the Council on Foreign Relations, called the current situation “the biggest financial challenge facing the world in a half-century.” The LAT says that Clinton spoke of trying to “douse the flames of the international financial crisis.” The Post notes that this is a shift from Clinton’s much more minimal assessment of the threat last fall. And indeed, USAT refers to the leading economies’ “months of silence” about the crisis. The papers note that soon after the speech, the finance ministers and central bank heads of the G-7 countries issued a joint statement pledging to spur global growth and restore stability to the financial markets.

With characteristic succinctness, USAT does something the others never quite do–spell out what the problem is: a third of the world is in recession, and this threatens the U.S. because overseas trade has accounted for 30 percent of U.S. growth since 1993. The remedies Clinton advocated include, the papers report, Congress’ replenishment of the IMF, and allowing the IMF to tap into an emergency line of credit. All but USAT also mention the response of lowering interest rates, to stimulate growth. The NYT says Clinton called for the world’s leading economies to abandon their fear of inflation. The WP says such comments are being widely interpreted as hinting at the need for the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates. But the WP, NYT and LAT note that Clinton avoided the appearance of trying to dictate interest rate policy to the Fed.

The Wall Street Journal and WP report that new Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov has invited an IMF official to Moscow for talks. This means, say the papers, that perhaps Primakov will not follow the recent calls from some communists to shut Russia off from western investment. In the immediate balance is a $4.3 billion IMF emergency loan agreed to in July, but delayed after Russia devalued its currency and defaulted on its domestic debt.

A report highlighted on the front page of last Thursday’s WP found that children in immigrant families tend to be healthier than those of U.S.-born parents, but that their health deteriorates the longer they live here. And today’s LAT front bears yet another example of a recent skein of research questioning the time-honored tenet that immigrating to the U.S. is good for your health. A new University of California study finds that Mexican immigrants have only half as many psychiatric problems as U.S.-born Mexican Americans do. Fast food, lack of exercise, and especially drug abuse and the breakdown of the extended family are implicated.

A front-page WP piece and one inside at the NYT report that a new HHS study finds that most of the possible savings to come from the growth of managed care plans in recent years have already been achieved, with the result that the nation’s health care costs are likely to double over the next decade. Also contributing to the rise, says the study, is an increase in the consumption of expensive prescription drugs and new medical technology, plus greater patient demand for choosing one’s doctor. Already, notes the Post, health insurance rates are starting to go up.

The front page of USAT’s “Money” section reports that as part of its antitrust case, the DOJ is investigating accusations made by several former Microsoft employees that the company destroyed computer files relating to various previous lawsuits. The files, says the paper, could have served as antitrust evidence.

The NYT reports inside that a private New Jersey telephone company has just signed a deal to build a cellular phone system for the Taliban, the Islamic sect controlling most of Afghanistan. The White House is said by the Times to have been unaware of the deal but to look on it favorably as a means to ease Western access to the country. Under the deal the Taliban will require the use of software to block “anti-Taliban Web sites.”

Inevitably, some of the reporting on Clinton’s economics speech suggests that it had Lewinsky-driven spin value. The LAT calls the speech “hastily scheduled,” and the WP speaks of presidential aides painting a picture of an “engaged” president. Well, why not–that’s the next step after dating.