Fed, Central Banks Cut Rates to Jolt World Economy: In an attempt to stem the growing global financial crisis, the Federal Reserve and six other central banks worldwide, including the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, slashed interest rates today. Although the coordinated action was lauded by analysts as a step in the right direction, many said that it will not be sufficient to reverse disturbing financial trends. Wall Street greeted the news tentatively, rising slightly after the announcement. In more worrying news, the International Monetary Fund projected today that the world economy will slow suddenly this year and like will expand just 3 percent next year, compared with 5 percent in 2007. The United States probably will slide into a recession, the IMF said.
McCain, Obama Trade Barbs in Town-Hall Debate: Last night's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain was followed by each campaign releasing tough ads today. Obama goes after his rival's healthcare plan, while McCain contends that Obama is a tax-and-spend candidate. Given both campaigns' rhetoric of late, one apparent omission from the debate, which covered the financial crisis, healthcare, and foreign affairs, was any mentioning of either Charles Keating Jr. or William Ayers, each a potential liability to one of the candidates. While both candidates tried to defy their stereotypes during the town hall-style meeting, analysts agreed that the debate was hardly a "game-changer"—leaving the election in favor of Obama, at least for now.
Gates Asks Allies to Send Troops to Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked European leaders to move their troops from Iraq to Afghanistan today, citing the "urgent need" for more security in Afghanistan. The members of the Southeast European Defense Ministerial, whom he addressed, have a combined 5,100 troops in Afghanistan now and 6,900 in Iraq. Commanders in Afghanistan have said that they need as many as 10,000 more forces, in addition to the U.S. Marines and Army soldiers that will be sent later this year and in early 2009.