The most powerful man on Earth - the President of the United States of America - George W. Bush made his last public appearance yesterday. He spoke for one final time explaining his decisions that shaped the US and the world over the past eight years of his presidency.
On the most contentious issue of Iraq, he said, "Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States." While he did not mention that violence in Iraq still persists despite improved security, he also failed to soothe nerves that believed that the war was a mistake, and that weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of which Bush fought the war, were never found.
On the US economy, Bush said, "When challenges to our prosperity emerged, we rose to meet them. Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisive measures to safeguard our economy. These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted." Oh really? The fact is that Bush oversaw the inflation of the asset bubble led by an easy money policy of his central bank policymakers.
He also failed to mention that the largest of those 'decisive measures' has already come under severe criticism because of lack of transparency and accountability about how the first block of US$350 bn was spent.
In his parting remark, he spoke graciously about the 'hope and pride' felt towards a successor 'whose story reflects the enduring promise of our land'. Rounding up his stay at the helm of affairs at the world's most powerful democracy, he said, "You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions. There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil." Well, we agree to this!
It must be acknowledged that Bush did quite a lot in improving Indo-US ties right from the start of his presidency. He defended outsourcing during the 2004 US election and recently played a key role in the civilian nuclear deal.
Inflation declines further...
The wholesale price index based inflation for the week ended January 2 has fallen to 5.24%, down from 5.91% in the previous week. As per a leading business daily, the government expects inflation to decline to 3% to 4% by the end of March this year. The RBI's comfort level is 5%. Hence the case for another round of rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is rapidly building up.
The decline this week is due to lower prices in all three major commodity groups - primary articles, fuel and manufactured products. It may be noted that food inflation was increasing even as overall inflation was declining. However, it has come down this week, for the second time in a row. Hopefully, supermarkets and restaurants will now stop hiking their rates for a change!